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Do Brits in Switzerland still have to quarantine when travelling to the UK?

Do Brits in Switzerland still have to quarantine when travelling to the UK?
UK toughens its entry rules for Switzerland-based Brits. Ben FATHERS / AFP
The British government announced on July 8th a relaxation of its quarantine rules for fully vaccinated travellers — excluding Brits who live abroad.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday that from July 19th, fully vaccinated Brits travelling abroad would no longer have to quarantine on arrival back in the UK.

However, this exemption is not extended to the majority of UK nationals who live in Switzerland; they will still have to quarantine when visiting friends or family in the UK, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Shapps said that the new changes would “prioritise those vaccinated in the United Kingdom” and are for “residents returning to England”.

“Passengers will need to provide proof of their vaccination status to carriers in advance of travel.” 

The Department for Transport confirmed to The Local that this exemption is for anyone who was vaccinated in the UK or part of a UK clinical trial on vaccines.

This means that British residents living in Switzerland who received their vaccinations in the UK can travel quarantine-free, but those who got their shots in Switzerland will still have to undergo a 10-day quarantine if they want to travel to the UK to visit friends and family.

They will also have to still pay around £160 for the compulsory travel testing package.

Under 18s do not need to quarantine.

Will this regulation change in the coming weeks, as more Switzerland-based Brits travel to the UK?

Speaking on Sky News on Friday morning, Shapps said he hoped to be able to have news to announce on whether the UK can recognise people vaccinated in other countries “within the next couple of weeks”.

He added that “We want to welcome international visitors back to the UK and are working to extend our approach to vaccinated passengers from important markets and holiday destinations later this summer, such as the United States and the EU”.

A source from the European Commission told The Local “When it comes to the UK, the talks are ongoing at the technical level and are progressing well and going in the right direction. This is in particular because technically speaking the EU’s and the UK’s archtectures are aligned”.

The reactions to the new rule have been swift.

James Savage, Founder and CEO of The Local, expressed his anger on Twitter when he said: “People who the UK will let in without quarantining: 1) Italians who want to watch football. 2) Brits returning from a fortnight in Shagaluf. People the UK refuses to admit w/o quarantine: 1) Fully vaccinated Brits living in the EU who haven’t seen their families for a year”. 

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

Brits in Switzerland have also taken to social media to express their anger about the new regulation.

“I have, we all have, been let down by our government. I would hope to see our embassy here standing up and representing our views back the the UK”, one person commented on the Facebook page of the British Embassy in Bern.

“Be ashamed UKgov, very ashamed”.

Another person wrote “bloody cheek! as if the eu vaccines are inferior”.

“This is ridiculous that we cannot travel to ‘plague Island’ from here in CH without quarantine despite having been vaccinated by UK approved Pfizer/Moderna”, yet another Facebook user wrote.

What about British tourists coming to Switzerland?

The UK is currently on Swiss Health Ministry’s list of high-variant countries.

This means that anyone arriving from the UK has to be fully vaccinated within the past 12 months or have recovered from the virus within the past six months, and be able to prove it. 

Those who have not had their shots or recovered from the disease must have a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 48 hours of arrival, and quarantine for 10 or seven days.

READ MORE: Travel: How to have your Swiss vaccination recognised abroad


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