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Travel: Switzerland to announce new entry rules from September 20th

Swiss Federal Council is set to announce new entry rules, with the government proposing that almost all arrivals will need to be tested - and unvaccinated people would need to quarantine.

Travel: Switzerland to announce new entry rules from September 20th
The Swiss-French border during the Covid pandemic. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

PLEASE NOTE: This story was originally published on September 8th. The final decision has now been made. Click here for more information

On September 13th, the Swiss government announced the Covid certificate would be expanded amid rising hospitalisations, including in the country’s ICUs. 

Covid certificates – available to those who have been vaccinated, negatively tested or recovered from the virus – are now required in bars, gyms, restaurants and indoor areas of most businesses and venues. 

READ MORE: Q&A: Answers to your questions about Switzerland’s expanded Covid-19 certificate

What are Switzerland’s planned new tighter entry rules? 

At the same announcement, the government indicated it will tighten entry rules to prevent further spread of the virus, with the changes to come into effect from September 20th. 

The new measures will be announced Friday afternoon September 17th.

The Swiss government indicated it was abandoning the country list-based approach, which has been common place since the start of the pandemic. 

Option one is the comparatively more relaxed route, with option two requiring a quarantine for all unvaccinated arrivals.

Option one: Two tests

According to option one, all unvaccinated arrivals or those who cannot show proof of having had the virus and recovered in the past six months must show a negative test on arrival, regardless of where they come from. 

Between four and seven days after having arrived in Switzerland, another test needs to be taken. 

Both tests must be taken at the arrival’s expense. 

Option two: Quarantine

According to option two, all unvaccinated arrivals or those who cannot show proof of having had the virus and recovered in the past six months must show a negative test on arrival, regardless of where they come from.

Arrivals will need to go into quarantine for ten days, with people allowed to leave quarantine from the seventh day with a negative test result. 

Will the rules pass? 

Switzerland’s complicated governance structure has meant that the federal government usually seeks to have the country’s 26 cantons on board when putting in place new rules with regard to the pandemic. 

While the proposals may encounter some resistance, up until this point whenever rules are ‘put out for consultation’ by the federal government, they tend to be put in place in a relatively unchanged form. 

In this case however, as there are two options, it is likely that the government will see which of the two the cantons find more favourable before putting them in place. 

Who will the rules apply to?

Whether option one or two is chosen, the rules are expected to apply to all arrivals, although some exceptions will be made for cross-border workers, children under 16 years of age and transit passengers. 

The current rules for entering Switzerland can be seen in the following link. 

UPDATED: Who can travel to Switzerland right now?

Why stricter rules? 

 Health Minister Alain Berset said the Covid certificate – which proves vaccination, a negative test or recovery from the disease – would now be required in almost all indoor areas, other than a handful of exceptions. 

Berset said the expansion was necessary, as the “situation is very serious” in the hospitals. 

More than 90 percent of those patients in Swiss hospitals have not been vaccinated, said the health minister.

Switzerland has the most patients in ICU of any European country on a per capita basis. 

EXPLAINED: Why does Switzerland have Europe’s highest number of ICU admissions? 

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TRAVEL NEWS

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain’s Basel to Berlin line

In early May, German transport provider Flixtrain announced it would begin running services from Basel to Berlin (and back) from June. Here’s what you need to know.

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain's Basel to Berlin line

German transport provider Flixtrain has announced it will launch in Switzerland from June 23rd. The low-cost provider is offering 10 franc (10 euro) tickets from Basel to Berlin, among other cheap fares.

The low-cost company, which has been establishing itself Deutsche Bahn’s major competitor Germany over the past few years, runs long distance bus and train services. 

When will the services run?

The lines to and from Basel run from Thursday to Monday, with one connection per day in either direction. 

It will take 8 hours and 45 minutes from Basel Badischer Bahnhof to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. 

A trip with the German ICE will instead take just over 7 hours. 

The new line is part of an expansion of services which is set to include around 70 destinations in Germany. 

OK but will it really cost CHF10?

The price of the ticket grabbed headlines, with Flixtrain saying in its press conference that the almost-nine-hour trip would only cost CHF10 (10 euro). 

Flixtrain spokesperson Sebastian Meyer told Swiss news outlet Watson that tickets would start at CHF10, but more expensive tickets would be available when the CHF10 offerings were sold out. 

“If the cheapest ticket contingent is sold out, the next higher one takes effect. In this way, we can always offer our passengers cheap tickets. Affordable prices are still possible due to the corresponding utilisation of the individual trips.”

In order to get the cheapest possible fare, travellers are advised to book early. 

REVEALED: How to find cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Tickets between Basel and Berlin can cost as high as CHF150 or 160 euros from Switzerland’s SBB or Germany’s Deutsche Bahn respectively, although booking in advance can bring the price down to as low as CHF30. 

Where will the train to (and from) Berlin stop?

In either direction, the train will stop at: Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, Offenburg, Freiburg, Wiesloch, Bad Hersfeld and Weil am Rhein. 

What else is different about Flixtrain?

Other than being bright lime green, Flixtrains allow you to take your bicycle with you, which is not allowed on most ICE long-distance trains in Germany. 

Are there any other destinations within Switzerland? 

As yet, Basel will be the only Swiss destination. The other two new routes are Stuttgart to Hamburg and Berlin to Weisbaden. 

In addition to the 10 franc (10 euro) ticket from Basel to Berlin, other journeys within Germany will start at 5 francs (5 euros). 

More information is available from Flixtrain at the following link. 

The expanded routes can be seen in the following image. 

A look at Flixtrain’s route network in 2022. Map: Flixtrain

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