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EXPLAINED: How does Switzerland’s newly expanded Covid-19 certificate work?

Switzerland will expand the Covid certificate from Monday, September 13th. Here’s what it will look like.

EXPLAINED: How does Switzerland’s newly expanded Covid-19 certificate work?
A waiter checks a customer's Covid-19 health pass. Photo: FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP.

From Monday, September 13th, Switzerland requires the Covid certificate at several additional venues including bars, gyms, restaurants and at some private events. 

While this mirrors what has taken place in Switzerland’s neighbours for some time, this is the first time people need to show the certificate in these venues. 

Up until September 13th, the Covid certificate had only been required for large events or venues with more than 1,000 people and in some instances for travel. 

From Monday those who are in a venue without a Covid certificate face a fine of 100 francs. Venues that don’t enforce the requirement can be threatened with large fines and closure. 

Cantons are required to enforce the measures. 

Here’s what you need to know about the expanded Covid certificate. 

What is the Covid certificate? 

The Covid-19 certificate – otherwise known as the Covid-19 pass or the green pass – is available in paper and digital form. 

The pass “provides documentary evidence that you have had a COVID-19 vaccination, have had and recovered from the disease or have tested negative”. 

While the paper version remains accepted in Switzerland, many Swiss residents have adopted to shift to the digital version.

The digital version lets you upload your paper docs through the Swiss Covid app and display the certificate via the app. 

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

Where it applies from September 13th? 

The Covid certificate is now required in several venues and locations, in addition to the current rules which require it for events with more than 1,000 people and large nightclubs, discos and dance halls. 

Everyone over the age of 16 have to show a Covid certificate. People aged 15 and under will not. 

The certificate is required in bars and restaurants, but only in indoor areas. Terraces, verandas and other outdoor areas do not fall under the Covid certificate rules. 

The rules do not apply to staff, however staff members will need to wear masks unless they have a valid Covid certificate. 

The certificate applies in cultural and entertainment venues, such as museums, cinemas, theatres and zoos. This is the case whether these venues are indoors, outdoors or a combination of both. 

Private events in publicly accessible venues, such as weddings, also require Covid certificates. 

The certificate is also required in fitness centres, gyms, climbing halls, saunas and wellness facilities. 

Casinos and gambling facilities also need to ask for the Covid certificate. 

What about in the workplace and at university? 

Your employer will be allowed to ask whether or not you have a Covid certificate, however they cannot require you to have a Covid certificate in most cases. 

The question is allowed to be asked in order to decide whether certain steps need to be taken in the workplace to protect people from further infection, such as creating distance between people or installing barricades. 

Persons without Covid certificates could also be allowed to work from home. 

In rare cases where no steps can be taken to prevent employees without Covid certificates from coming into contact with others, then termination may be possible. 

Click the following link for more information. 

READ MORE: Can your boss require you to have a Covid certificate in Switzerland?

Employers must consult with their employees about the Covid certificate requirement. 

Each canton will be able to decide whether Covid certificates will apply at universities. 

Where will it not apply? 

There are several areas where exemptions apply. 

The Covid certificate is not required for religious events, such as funerals and other ceremonies, although a cap of 30 people remains. 

Where these ceremonies are conducted inside, a mask is required. 

The certificate will also not be required for protests and demonstrations. 

EXPLAINED: How do tourists get Switzerland’s Covid certificate to access events, clubs and restaurants?

As noted above, outdoor areas of bars and restaurants will not require the Covid certificate. 

Similarly, bars and restaurants at airports will not require the Covid certificate (whether indoor or outdoor). 

One area which the government has clarified is in relation to hotel stays. While bars and restaurants of hotels will need to ask for Covid certificates, staying overnight will not require a Covid certificate. 

Please click here for an official overview of the rules which apply from September 13th. 

Do you have further questions about Switzerland’s Covid certificate or think there is something we could cover? Get in touch at [email protected] 

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What will Switzerland do about the ‘millions’ of expiring Covid certificates?

In the coming months, millions of Covid certificates are set to expire in Switzerland. What will the government do about it?

What will Switzerland do about the ‘millions’ of expiring Covid certificates?

As certificates are valid for nine months after the second vaccine dose or a booster, “millions of Swiss Covid certificates will expire by autumn at the latest”, according to Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes.

As many Swiss received their most recent shot in late 2021, the nine-month period will soon be coming to an end. 

Although this is not a problem domestically as proof of vaccination is no longer required in Switzerland, it may pose issues for travel. 

Since many countries still require a vaccination certificate for entry, and as the second round of boosters is not yet available in Switzerland,  this means that a large number of people may not be able to travel abroad.

And while other countries have already started to administer second booster shots, Swiss health authorities are dragging their feet, not having even issued a recommendation for the fourth dose yet.

This worries some MPs, who are calling on the government to make second boosters available soonest possible.

“The past has shown that cantons are not always sufficiently prepared. Something like this mustn’t happen again”, said MP Fabian Molina, adding that anyone travelling abroad should be able to be re-vaccinated if they wish. 

Another deputy, Yvonne Feri, noted that the federal government and the cantons have to prepare to vaccinate again within a short period of time.

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