‘Quite brave’: Switzerland goes further than expected in new easing of Covid rules

Switzerland announced on Wednesday it would relax a range of coronavirus measures which could mean summer in the country feels like something approaching normal. Here’s what you need to know.

'Quite brave': Switzerland goes further than expected in new easing of Covid rules
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland on Wednesday cited a positive epidemiological development as a reason why its planned loosening of Covid measures will be more extensive than previously thought.  

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said the changes were “quite brave”, although he called upon members of the public to continue to be responsible. 

Berset also told those who had not been vaccinated yet to do so, with half of the population expected to be vaccinated by the end of June. 

What measures have been relaxed? 

A major change is that the relaxations will come into effect on Saturday, June 26th – rather than the June 28th date previously given by the government. 

The changes to the travel rules are still set to come into effect on the 28th. 

People will no longer be required to work from home, with the obligation replaced by a recommendation to do so, while mandatory testing no longer needs to be carried out in the workplace. 

Limits on the number of people who can sit at a table indoors will be lifted completely, with the government previously indicating they would rise from four to six. The limits will also be lifted outdoors. 

The maximum number of people at events will also be lifted, with events of up to 1,000 people now allowed without approval and events of up to 10,000 people requiring approval. 

There will be no requirement to wear masks or keep a distance during cultural and sporting activities – and the rules will no longer differentiate between professional and amateur sportspeople and artists. 

Face-to-face teaching is again allowed to take place in universities and vocational schools. 

A summary of the measures which are set to apply is available at the following link. 

IN DETAIL: What are Switzerland’s new relaxed coronavirus measures?

Immunity passport needed to visit nightclubs and take part in large events

Central to the plan is ensuring people use Switzerland’s Covid immunity certificate. More information is available below. 

READ MORE: What will Switzerland’s Covid-19 pass allow you to do?

Member comments

  1. Reading the FOPH announcement today, it seems to say that visits from the UK will be possible from the 28th, providing you have had both jabs. Is that correct?

    1. That’s the way I read it too. But if you then have to travel back to the UK, you will still end up in quarantine on their side due to the UK immigration rules. Switzerland is still ‘Amber’ and they still insist on PCR tests even for vaccinated travellers.

      1. Yes, thanks for your reply. Perhaps the return quarantine requirement may be lifted soon for the double vaccinated – but at least travel is possible which is good news.

  2. “Entry from a country with a variant of the virus of concern

    The current list of high-risk countries issued by the Federal Office of Public Health is to be revised and will only contain countries or regions where virus variants of concern to Switzerland are in circulation. Persons who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from the disease will be permitted to enter Switzerland from these countries or regions without having to be tested or to quarantine as long as it is certain that the vaccination offers good protection. Those who have neither been vaccinated nor have recovered must present a negative PCR test or rapid antigen test and go into quarantine on entry.

    In practice, this means that persons who have been vaccinated or who have recovered do not have to produce a negative test even when travelling from countries where the Delta variant is widespread (such as India or the United Kingdom) and do not have to quarantine on entry. The vaccines used in Switzerland are only slightly less effective against the Delta variant and thus still offer a very high level of protection.”

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‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

Though Covid has not been a nationwide problem in Switzerland during recent several months, the virus is circulating again and rates of contamination are expected to soar in the coming weeks.

'Over a million people' in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

While the new wave has not been expected to hit before fall or winter,  Swiss health officials now say 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the virus before then.

This is a large number, considering that a total of 3.7 million people in Switzerland got infected since the beginning of the pandemic on February 24th, 2020.

“More than 80,000 new contaminations per week” are expected in the next two months, according to Tanja Stadler, the former head of the Covid-19 Task Force — much more than during the past two summers, when the rate of infections slowed down.

At the moment, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reports 24,704 new cases in the past seven days — double of what it was in April.

“The numbers are expected to continue to rise. Note that most of infected people will not be tested, so the number of confirmed cases will be smaller on paper than in reality”, Stadler added.

Although according to FOPH, nearly all cases in Switzerland (99 percent) are caused by Omicron and its sub-variants, which are less severe that the original Covid viruses, “more vulnerable people are likely to end up in hospital, and long Covid cases are also likely to rise”, she said.

Stadler also noted that Omicron virus can’t be compared with the flu, “because we observe long-term consequences much more often during an infection with Omicron than during the flu. Also, Covid can trigger very large waves, even in summer, while large flu outbreaks are rare at this time of year”.

There is, however, some positive news.

“The most recent data shows that 97 percent of the adult population in Switzerland has antibodies against Covid thanks to vaccinations and previous infections”, Stadler said.

Also, “in the long term, things will stabilise. But in the years to come, there will probably be waves in the summer too”.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?