What’s the latest on travelling to Switzerland from neighbouring countries?

With Germany warning that border checks could be enforced with Switzerland over Covid-19 fears here's a look at the state of play for travel to Switzerland from neighbouring countries.

What's the latest on travelling to Switzerland from neighbouring countries?
Controls could be strengthened at the Swiss-German border. Photo by AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Thursday her intention to hold talks with Switzerland on possible controls at their common border to prevent the spread of Covid-19 or its mutations.

Until now, cross-border commuters are still circulating normally between the two countries.

But the concern over contaminations with the mutated strains could be a game-changer.

“We will certainly have to discuss this with Switzerland,” Merkel told a press conference in Berlin. 

EXPLAINED: Which countries are currently on Switzerland's quarantine list?

She added that “we will try to avoid” imposing general restrictions on travel between the two nations.

On December 23rd, the German state of Baden-Württemberg, which shares a border with northern Switzerland, restricted traffic between the two countries to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

The primary goal was to prevent seasonal shopping tourism from Switzerland.

However, quarantine-free entry is permitted for a stay of up to 24 hours for work, official business, school, medical, or family-related reasons.

Nearly 34,000 cross-border workers from Germany are employed Switzerland, mostly in the Basel area. 

Germans are allowed to come to Switzerland, but if they are residents of Land Sachsen and Land Thüringen they will have to quarantine for 10 days if they arrive after February 1st. 

Stopping the spread of coronavirus is a concern at Switzerland’s other borders as well.


Earlier this week, Ticino officials asked the government to reintroduce checks at the Swiss-Italian border.

READ MORE: Ticino officials ask government to reintroduce checks at Swiss-Italian border 

Concerned that people entering the canton from Italy will spread the new Covid variant, the canton’s officials asked the Federal Council “to introduce systematic controls at the border and to close minor crossings, except for the crossings most used by health sector workers”.

About 70,000 workers from Italy commute each day to their jobs in Ticino, but authorities said “the significant cross-border flow appears only partially linked to professional reasons”.

While people from Italian regions closest to Switzerland — Lombardia and Piemonte — can enter freely, those living in Regione Emilia Romagna, Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Regione Veneto will have to quarantine for 10 days from February 1st, due to the high number of Covid infections in those areas. 

READ MORE: UPDATE: Switzerland to add more neighbouring countries to quarantine list 

To enter Italy from Switzerland, a declaration form is needed to explain reasons for travel.

However, border workers returning to Italy from their jobs in Switzerland are exempted from the obligation to carry the form.


New rules are in effect on Switzerland’s border with France.

On the Swiss side, arrivals from Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur will have to quarantine for 10 days starting on February 1st.

And anyone wishing to enter France from Sunday will need a negative Covid test, performed in the previous 72 hours. The government specified that this must be a PCR test, as the rapid-result antigen test will not be accepted. 

Cross-border workers are exempted from this requirement.

Also, as new curfew rules are currently in effect in France, you must carry this document if you cross the border between 6 pm and 6 am.

More than 125,000 cross-border workers from France who are employed is the area around Lake Geneva are exempted from this requirement.


From January 15th, everyone arriving in Austria, including people from Switzerland, have to register by filling out this form.

Additionally, Austria requires a 10-day quarantine upon arrival. 

There are, however, some exemptions, including cross-borders workers, as well as people who visit their partners in Austria more than once a month.

Those who have a serious emergency to attend to, including serious illnesses, deaths, funerals, births and the care of people in need of support, along with diplomats and medical escorts, are also excused from the quarantine requirement.

In general, Austrian residents don’t have to quarantine when entering Switzerland. The only exceptions are arrivals from Land Salzburg, who will be required to quarantine for 10 days from February 1st. 

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Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.