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What will Christmas be like in Switzerland this year?

What will Christmas be like in Switzerland this year?
At least Christmas trees are still permitted. Photo by AFP
Holidays is Switzerland will not be the same as usual this year, as they will be regulated by a raft of measures aiming to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Over the last several days the government has announced various restrictions that will be implemented to prevent further contaminations during the Christmas season.

This is the overview of the rules:

Shopping

Christmas shopping will be strictly regulated this year.

From December 9th, the number of square metres per customer will rise from 4 to 10 to ensure more space and fewer people in stores at the same time.

The aim is to prevent clusters of people overcrowding the stores during the busy holiday season.

Celebrations

The traditional Christmas dinner, where families and friends sit close together around a table, is a thing of the past, at least for now.

This year, get-togethers will be limited to 10 people, preferably consisting of two households or two families. This is not an obligation but it is a “very strong recommendation in order to be able to limit the risk of infection”, Health Ministry said.

READ MORE: Switzerland announces new Covid-19 rules for Christmas

Restaurants

Restaurants and coffee shops will re-open in most Swiss-French cantons on December 10th. Valais will follow on the 13th. 

Officials said that the re-opening “will take place in a strict health framework”.

“It will be mandatory to consume seated and provide contact details for tracing. There can only up to four people per table.”

Tables must be at least 1.5 metres apart and masks must be worn if customers are not seated.
Additionally, establishments must remain closed between 11 pm. and 6 am.

On New Year’s Eve, restaurants will exceptionally be allowed to close at 1 am.

 

Skiing

Both the Swiss Ski Lift Association and health authorities have created rules to help prevent the spread of coronavirus while skiing. 

Masks are mandatory not only in closed spaces such as mountain trains and cable cars, but also on open-air chair lifts and T-bars, as well as in queues.

In addition, queuing will be regulated so it “runs in an orderly manner and without major clusters”.

The number of passengers in closed ski cabins will be lowered to two-thirds of the usual capacity.

The federal government will allow cantons to re-open their skiing infrastructures based on their hospital capacities, as well as the ability to undertake testing and contact tracing.

Travel

Residents of Switzerland can travel abroad. However, before packing your bags, you should be aware not only of the epidemiological situation at your destination, but also of all the rules, including quarantine and testing requirements on arrival. 

For instance, North America remains pretty much off limits to residents of Switzerland, with the exception of citizens and permanent residents, as well as other exemptions for both USA and Canada.

And in Canada, travellers will have to be prepared to quarantine for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.

In Europe, only Hungary is off-limits to international travellers.

However, a number of countries require arrivals to either provide a negative Covid-19 test, or to quarantine upon arrival.

This is where a negative test result is required:

• Bosnia and Herzegovina. The test shouldn’t be older than 48 hours
• Greece (72 hours)
• Malta (72 hours)
• Russia (72 hours)
• Slovakia (72 hours)
• Spain (72 hours)


And this is where you will have to quarantine:

• Belgium (10-day quarantine)
• Cyprus (14 days, plus test at the end of the quarantine)
• Estonia (14 days)
• Ireland (14 days)
• Iceland (14 days)
• Germany (10 days – can be reduced if test taken after 5 days. There are certain exemptions)
• Latvia (14 days)
• Lithuania (10 days or a negative test)
• The Netherlands (10 days)
• Norway (10 days)
• Romania (14-day quarantine, can be ended on the 10th day if a test is negative on the 8th day)
• Slovenia (14 days)
• UK (14 days. From December 15th, travellers can take a test after 5 days of quarantine. If negative quarantine ends.)
• Ukraine (14-day quarantine or test upon entry and self-quarantine until a negative result)

This is the situation right now, but it can change at a short notice, so check the rules for your destination before you leave.

If you are expecting guests from abroad, or if you are returning to Switzerland, be aware that from December 14th, 11 countries and regions will be added to Switzerland’s quarantine list, in addition to five already listed: 

France

• Overseas area French Polynesia

Italy

• Region Emilia Romagna
• Region Friuli Venezia Giulia
• Region Veneto

Austria
• Land Kärnten
• Land Salzburg
• Land Steiermark
• Land Upper Austria

Other countries:

• Andorra

• Croatia

• Georgia
• Hungary
• Jordan
• Lithuania
• Luxembourg
• Montenegro
• Northern Macedonia
• Poland
• Portugal
• San Marino
• Serbia
• Slovenia
• United States of America

People entering Switzerland from these countries will have to register with cantonal health authorities and quarantine at home or another suitable location for 10 days. Going out or receiving visitors is not allowed during this period.

 


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