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What does Switzerland’s rule change for those recovered from Covid mean for travel?

What does Switzerland’s rule change for those recovered from Covid mean for travel?
Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
On Monday, the Swiss Health Ministry recommended that those who have recovered from Covid only be deemed immune for three months, rather than six. What implications does this have for travel?

Like many other countries, Switzerland’s Covid certificate gives certain privileges to those who are deemed to be immune or to not have the virus. 

This is in three broad categories: vaccinated, recovered from the virus in the past six months and those who have tested negative. 

However, this could be set to change after Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recommended that the immunity period for those recovered be changed from six to three months. 

What has happened? 

Swiss health officials, like their counterparts in several other countries, initially believed that post-Covid immunity lasted at least six months.

Now they say protection from renewed infection lasts “for a certain period of time, but it is not clear how long for”.

This is why the FOPH now advises inoculation “from four weeks after a confirmed coronavirus infection” but no later than three months.

Will the new recommendation alter the validity of Covid certificates – and how will it impact travel?

Right now, certificates issued to recovered people are valid for six months, with one year of validity for those who are fully vaccinated.

However, the FOPH states that “the validity may be adjusted on the basis of new scientific data”.

This means that as at early September, those who have recovered from the virus in the past six months still qualify for a valid Covid certificate. 

READ MORE: UPDATED: A step-by-step guide to getting the Swiss Covid certificate

This therefore means that the rules will remain in place for arrivals for now. 

Currently, people may enter Switzerland if they have recovered from the virus in the past six months – and can show proof of recovery. 

If the change comes into effect, those entering will need to have proof of recovery in the past three months. If not, they will either need to be vaccinated or show a negative Covid test. 

More information is available here. 

Will this change soon? 

While some MPs are calling for a change, nothing is set in stone yet. 

Some MPs have called for the shortening of the duration of the certificate to four months for recovery. 

Some are also calling for the validity to be shortened to eight months for the vaccines.

“We have to listen to science and follow its recommendations. In this respect, it will probably be correct to shorten the validity period of the certificate for those who have recovered”, said deputy Yvonne Feri.

Another MP, Martin Bäumle agrees that “the incentive to be vaccinated would be increased by shortening the certificate duration”.

Infectiologist Andreas Widmer also advocated adjusting the certificate duration for those who have recovered.

“People who are skeptical of vaccinations and who have recently become infected would be more likely to be vaccinated if the certificate was only valid for three months”, he said.

FOPH has not responded to these recommendations but Thomas Steffen, cantonal doctor of Basel-City, said no changes for certificate o are needed at the moment.

“Currently, we rarely see new infections in the first six months after illness”, he said.

“However, the recovered person is undoubtedly better protected by an earlier vaccination”, Steffen added.

READ MORE: Covid-19 vaccines: Why is Switzerland lagging behind other EU countries?


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