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UPDATE: Swiss cantons of Fribourg, Neuchâtel to implement new coronavirus restrictions

Neuchâtel and Fribourg join Geneva and several other cantons in Switzerland in mandating tougher measures to fight the spread of Covid-19.

UPDATE: Swiss cantons of Fribourg, Neuchâtel to implement new coronavirus restrictions
A sad sight: a number of cantons are shutting down bars and restaurants. Photo by AFP

Fribourg and Neuchâtel have become the latest Swiss cantons implement stricter lockdown measures than those adopted at a federal level. 

Here's what you need to know. 

Fribourg

From 11pm on Wednesday, November 4th, Fribourg will put in place a strict range of new coronavirus measures. 

Bars, restaurants and cafes will be forced to close, as will cinemas, theatres, museums, gyms, fitness centres and swimming pools. 

Cantonal authorities stressed that the measures were necessary to control the pandemic. 

Fribourg has become one of the hardest hit cantons in Switzerland. 

Neuchâtel

Among the new rules will be the closure of all bars and restaurants, along with cinemas, concert halls, theatres, museums, fitness, and wellness centres, erotic salons, swimming pools, bowling alleys and other game rooms. Contact sports are prohibited and non-contact sports activities are limited to five people.

Religious ceremonies are also prohibited, except for funerals.

The measures will go into effect on Wednesday at 11 pm until at least until November 22nd.

“Demonstrations and gatherings, public or private, including within the family circle, both indoors and outdoors, involving more than five people are prohibited. Households with more than five people are not affected by this measure”, the canton said.

Neuchâtel’s measures follow a ‘semi-confinement’ implemented in Geneva on November 2nd, which includes shutting down all bars, restaurants, non-essential shops, as well as leisure establishments like cinemas, museums, libraries and pools.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Geneva and other Swiss cantons introduce tighter coronavirus restrictions 

Similar measures are also in force in Jura, where all bars, restaurants, museums, theatres, cinemas, and libraries in the canton will remain closed until November 15th. 

Other cantons are expected to implement similar measures in the coming days, including Vaud, which will release its list of restrictions on Wednesday.

The measures go beyond those mandated by the Federal Council on October 29th on the national level.

Cantons can’t revoke any of the federal measures but they can add their own, more restrictive ones.
 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Switzerland to drop vaccine requirement for entry from Monday

More than two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, travel to Switzerland is set to return to normal from May 2nd.

Switzerland to drop vaccine requirement for entry from Monday

Despite winding back all Covid measures domestically on April 1st, Switzerland still required visitors from non-European countries to be vaccinated against Covid. 

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration said on Twitter late in late April that all remaining entry rules would be scrapped from Monday, May 2nd. 

What were the rules? 

Up until May 2nd, visitors from the EU/EFTA zone can enter Switzerland without needing to show a vaccination or a test. Those from outside the bloc however need to show either proof of vaccination or recovery, or fit into other exception categories, including being under 18. 

This created a somewhat contradictory situation where Switzerland has some of the most relaxed rules in Europe domestically, but a stricter entry framework than many of its neighbours. 

‘Travelcheck’: This tool shows you what you need to enter Switzerland

As a consequence, Swiss tourism authorities warned that travellers from outside Europe, particularly those from the United States, China, India and the United Kingdom, are taking their tourist dollars elsewhere. 

The Swiss Tourism Association STV submitted a formal request in March that the laws be changed, saying they had put Switzerland at a disadvantage. 

How do I know which rules apply?

One of the most important elements to consider with regard to Covid entry rules is that the country where you reside rather than your nationality is the most important aspect. 

Therefore, if you are an American living in France under the current rules, you can enter without showing proof of vaccination, as you are considered to be entering from France. 

With rules constantly changing and official sources sometimes slow to keep up, the best way to determine the rules which apply in your specific case is the Swiss government’s ‘Travelcheck’ website. 

This is available here. 

The site will ask you certain questions about your situation, although no personal details are required. 

You will then receive a tailored response with advice on your entry situation. 

An extensive set of FAQs is available on the Swiss government website here

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