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TRAVEL

Entry, masks and nightclubs: What are the rules in some of Switzerland’s favourite holiday destinations?

Thinking of a holiday? Here are the rules in some of your favourite holiday destinations.

Entry, masks and nightclubs: What are the rules in some of Switzerland’s favourite holiday destinations?
Where can you go from Switzerland this summer? Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland, like much of Europe, has relaxed several coronavirus measures. 

As of July 9th, the European Union has recognized the Swiss Covid certificate and Switzerland recognizes certificates issued by EU and EFTA countries.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to use Switzerland’s Covid app when travelling in the EU

This has meant that international travel is allowed to take place again, whether that be domestically in Switzerland or for those travelling further afield. 

Just in time for the summer, a number of airlines are adding dozens of new destinations from Switzerland.

READ MORE: Airlines add dozens of new destinations from Switzerland in time for summer

On Monday, we broke down the rules for travelling abroad, including testing and quarantine on your return to Switzerland. 

Q&A: What you should know about travelling abroad from Switzerland right now

Now we’re giving you the low down on the rules in place in some of the most popular holiday destinations. 

These are accurate as of July 9th, but are of course subject to rapid change depending on the underlying epidemiological situation. 

France

Shops, restaurants and museums are open in France – albeit with restrictions on capacity and the requirement to register for contract tracing if you sit indoors – and the nighttime curfew has been lifted. Face masks are still required in many places including some outdoor areas.

France has placed Switzerland on its green list, meaning entry is not restricted. 

If you’ve been vaccinated you can enter with proof, if you have not you’ll need to show a negative PCR test which is less than 72 hours old. 

Anyone entering France will also need to fill in a form promising that they do not have Covid symptoms and haven’t had contact with anyone with Covid for the past 14 days. 

The form is available here in French and English. 

If you travel to France with your Covid Certificate, keep in mind that the date of your second shot should be at least 14 days prior. Same rules apply to Germany and Italy.

If this is not the case, you could be refused entry or be forced to undergo a test and / or quarantine.

Germany 

The rules in Germany have largely been relaxed regarding entry, although this will vary from state to state due to the federal system. 

Entering by land – whether road or train – is unrestricted, but those entering via air will need to show evidence of a negative test, recovery certificate or vaccination. 

Germany has had a strict approach to most coronavirus measures, with bars, restaurants and cultural facilities largely closed for a six-month period. 

Where the state has a low Covid rate, restaurants and bars are allowed to open up again, as are museums, theatres, galleries and other cultural and sporting facilities. 

In some states, a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery is needed to sit inside at bars and restaurants.

Masks are generally still required in shops and on public transport, but the type of mask – i.e. whether it is FFP2 or a just a cotton mask – will vary from state to state. 

Spain

Spain no longer considers Switzerland a risk country, meaning that you can enter freely. 

This includes mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands. 

Masks are no longer required in outdoor areas as of June 26th

You do not need to show evidence of vaccination or a negative test, but you will need to fill out the following form, which will give you a QR code to show on arrival. 

Italy

Italy has also relaxed many of its coronavirus measures, with the mask requirement in outdoor areas relaxed on June 28th. 

People from Switzerland are allowed to enter but will need to fill in the following form (English and Italian). 

You’ll need to show proof of vaccination or recovery – if not you need a negative antigen test which is less than 48 hours old. 

Austria

Austria put in place some of the strictest entry rules anywhere in the EU, with Swiss residents restricted from entering without quarantine for a six-month period. 

That has since been relaxed, although you will need to present a negative test, recovery certificate or evidence of vaccination to enter. 

From July 1st, masks will not be required anywhere other than public transport and in shops and museums. 

Unlike its neighbour countries, Austria  only requires partial vaccination, at least 22 days after receiving the first dose of the vaccine

More flexible measures

More information about Austria’s rules can be found here. 

Greece

Travel to Greece is permitted although you will need to show evidence of vaccination, recovery or a negative test (PCR). 

Masks are required in all outdoor areas and there is a nighttime curfew, although it only applies from 1am to 5:30am, so it’s only likely to be felt by the most dedicated of party goers. 

You’ll need to fill out the following form to enter Greece. 

Portugal

Portugal might be currently suffering from an increase in the Delta variant, however people are still allowed to enter provided you can show a negative test. 

There are relatively strict rules in place domestically however, including a maximum of six people allowed inside restaurants and cafes, a maximum of ten people outside.

Bars and restaurants must close at 1am. 

You will need to fill out the following form

Turkey

From July 1st, holidays to Turkey will be largely restriction-free for Swiss arrivals. 

Restaurants and cafes can open again, although there is a curfew which kicks into place at midnight. 

To enter, you need to show you’ve been vaccinated or that you have recovered from the virus.

You can also enter pursuant to a negative test, provided it is less than 48 hours old (antigen) or less than 72 hours old (PCR). 

You’ll also need to fill out the following form. 

United Kingdom

At present, this is one of the hardest destinations to visit, primarily due to concern surrounding the Delta variant. 

Entering the United Kingdom is possible, however as Switzerland is on the UK’s amber list, you must quarantine for ten days, along with bringing a negative Covid test (even if you’re vaccinated). 

Once there, you will need to pay for two more Covid tests, one on the second day and one on the eighth day, before ending the quarantine on the tenth day. 

Returning will also be difficult, as the United Kingdom is on Switzerland’s quarantine list, alongside only India, South Africa and Nepal. 

What about further afield? 

While Switzerland will not prevent you from going to any of these nations, each still has relatively strict border rules. 

As far as United States, Australia and New Zealand are concerned, the travel ban on foreign tourists is still in place, with no news about when it will be lifted.

If you are a resident or citizen of one of these nations you will be able to enter, subject to quarantine rules and possible quotas. 

These are the rules right now; the situation is changing very quickly and all information here is subject to change. It is advisable to regularly check the conditions before leaving and those of the return to Switzerland.

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For members

OFFBEAT

Is Switzerland’s male-only mandatory military service ‘discriminatory’?

Under Swiss law, all men must serve at least one year in compulsory national service. But is this discriminatory?

Swiss military members walk across a road carrying guns
A new lawsuit seeks to challenge Switzerland's male-only military service requirement. Is this discriminatory? FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

All men aged between the ages of 18 and 30 are required to complete compulsory military service in Switzerland. 

A lawsuit which worked its way through the Swiss courts has now ended up in the European Court of Human Rights, where the judges will decide if Switzerland’s male-only conscription requirement violates anti-discrimination rules. 

Switzerland’s NZZ newspaper wrote on Monday the case has “explosive potential” and has “what it takes to cause a tremor” to a policy which was first laid out in Switzerland’s 1848 and 1874 Federal Constitutions. 

What is Switzerland’s compulsory military service? 

Article 59 of the Federal Constitution of Switzerland says “Every man with Swiss citizenship is liable for military service. Alternative civilian service shall be provided for by law.”

Recruits must generally do 18 weeks of boot camp (longer in some cases). 

They are then required to spend several weeks in the army every year until they have completed a minimum 245 days of service.

Military service is compulsory for Swiss men aged 18 and over. Women can chose to do military service but this is rare.

What about national rather than military service? 

Introduced in 1996, this is an alternative to the army, originally intended for those who objected to military service on moral grounds. 

READ MORE: The Swiss army’s growing problem with civilian service

Service is longer there than in the army, from the age of 20 to 40. 

This must be for 340 days in total, longer than the military service requirement. 

What about foreigners and dual nationals? 

Once you become a Swiss citizen and are between the ages of 18 and 30, you can expect to be conscripted. 

READ MORE: Do naturalised Swiss citizens have to do military service?

In general, having another citizenship in addition to the Swiss one is not going to exempt you from military service in Switzerland.

However, there is one exception: the obligation to serve will be waved, provided you can show that you have fulfilled your military duties in your other home country.

If you are a Swiss (naturalised or not) who lives abroad, you are not required to serve in the military in Switzerland, though you can voluntarily enlist. 

How do Swiss people feel about military and national service? 

Generally, the obligation is viewed relatively positively, both by the general public and by those who take part in compulsory service. 

While several other European countries have gotten rid of mandatory service, a 2013 referendum which attempted to abolish conscription was rejected by 73 percent of Swiss voters. 

What is the court case and what does it say? 

Martin D. Küng, the lawyer from the Swiss canton of Bern who has driven the case through the courts, has a personal interest in its success. 

He was found unfit for service but is still required to pay an annual bill to the Swiss government, which was 1662CHF for the last year he was required to pay it. 

While the 36-year-old no longer has to pay the amount – the obligation only lasts between the ages of 18 and 30 – Küng is bring the case on principle. 

So far, Küng has had little success in the Swiss courts, with his appeal rejected by the cantonal administrative court and later by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. 

Previous Supreme Court cases, when hearing objections to men-only military service, said that women are less suitable for conscription due to “physiological and biological differences”.

In Küng’s case, the judges avoided this justification, saying instead that the matter was a constitutional issue. 

‘No objective reason why only men have to do military service’

He has now appealed the decision to the European level. 

While men have previously tried and failed when taking their case to the Supreme Court, no Swiss man has ever brought the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. 

Küng told the NZZ that he considered the rule to be unjust and said the Supreme Court’s decision is based on political considerations. 

“I would have expected the Federal Supreme Court to have the courage to clearly state the obvious in my case and not to decide on political grounds,” Küng said. 

“There is no objective reason why only men have to do military service or pay replacement taxes. On average, women may not be as physically productive as men, but that is not a criterion for excluding them from compulsory military service. 

There are quite a few men who cannot keep up with women in terms of stamina. Gender is simply the wrong demarcation criterion for deciding on compulsory service. If so, then one would have to focus on physical performance.”

Is it likely to pass? 

Küng is optimistic that the Strasbourg court will find in his favour, pointing to a successful appeal by a German man who complained about a fire brigade tax, which was only imposed on men. 

“This question has not yet been conclusively answered by the court” Küng said. 

The impact of a decision in his favour could be considerable, with European law technically taking precedence over Swiss law.

It would set Switzerland on a collision course with the bloc, particularly given the popularity of the conscription provision. 

Küng clarified that political outcomes and repercussions don’t concern him. 

“My only concern is for a court to determine that the current regulation is legally wrong.”

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