What exceptions allow unfettered travel from ‘variant’ countries to Switzerland?

What exceptions allow unfettered travel from ‘variant’ countries to Switzerland?
Urgent medical treatments are on the exemptions list. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Six ‘variants of concern’ (VOC) areas currently figure on Health Ministry’s list. Residents of these countries are not banned from entering Switzerland, but they can only do it under certain conditions — except travellers who are exempted from the rules altogether. This is how it works.

The six VOC countries in question are Brazil, Canada, India, South Africa, Nepal, and the UK.

Generally speaking, only residents of EU / EFTA and Schengen zone countries are allowed into Switzerland right now, along with a handful of third nations which are deemed ‘safe’ by Swiss health officials: Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus, Rwanda, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand.

Entry to Switzerland for arrivals from other states is basically restricted, with the exception of Swiss citizens and permanent residents returning home.

Prior to May 31st, a negative test result and a 10-day quarantine were required for all arrivals from nations that the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) qualifies as having high incidence of Covid infections.

But after this date, travellers from those areas who are fully vaccinated or who recovered from coronavirus in the last six months — and can prove it with official documents — don’t have to test or quarantine.

EXPLAINED: What are the latest quarantine rules for arrivals in Switzerland?

This easing doesn’t extend to arrivals from the six VOC nations, however, even to travellers who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid.

In principle, since all six nations are third countries, the only people permitted to enter Switzerland from there are returning Swiss citizens and  permanent residents, rather than tourists or random travellers.

However, some people may be allowed in under special circumstances without having to undergo either testing or quarantine. They include, according to FOPH:

  • Transit passengers who only travelled through, not stayed in, a VOC country where they spent less than 24 hours.
  • Those entering Switzerland as transit passengers and don’t remain here.
  • People who transport passengers or goods across borders as part of their professional duties, such as lorry drivers or airline crews.
  • People whose presence in Switzerland is absolutely necessary to maintain the functioning of the healthcare system, or public security and order.

In each case, proper documentation will be required as proof.

Exemptions may also include  the so-called cases ‘of special necessity’. These criteria, established by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), include following situations:

  • A close family member in Switzerland has died or is dying
  • To continue essential medical treatment that began in Switzerland or abroad
  • Entry to visit grandparents, parents, siblings, children, or grandchildren in a medical emergency
  • Entry on essential official visits in terms of Switzerland’s international commitments

Each of these conditions must be proven with official documentation.

For other ‘special necessity’ rules, see SEM’s page.

READ MORE: How does a country ever get off Switzerland’s ‘variant’ list?

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