For members


Here’s what you can still do without a Covid certificate in Switzerland

From Monday, Switzerland will expand the Covid certificate, requiring it in bars, restaurants, gyms and other places. Where is it not required?

Here’s what you can still do without a Covid certificate in Switzerland
You can get your haircut without a Covid certificate in Switzerland. Photo by Agustin Fernandez on Unsplash

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

This will be the first time people need to show the certificate in these venues in Switzerland. 

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

EXPLAINED: What will Switzerland’s expanded Covid certificate look like?

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. 

But while the expansion is relatively extensive, there are still some venues that do not require a Covid certificate. Here’s what you need to know. 

Where are Covid certificates not required in Switzerland? 

There are several areas where exemptions apply. 

The certificate will not be required in public transport, in supermarkets or retail, or at private events in private rooms with fewer than 30 people. 

READ MORE: What are unvaccinated people in Switzerland still allowed to do?

The Covid certificate will not be required for religious events, such as funerals and other ceremonies, although a cap of 50 people remains for these events. 

Visiting churches will also not require Covid certificates. However, where these ceremonies are conducted inside, a mask is required. 

Meetings of parliament and other municipal or government assemblies will not require a Covid certificate. 

This includes, for instance, Switzerland’s outdoor Landsgemeinde ‘open air’ voting system. 

READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s Landsgemeinde (open-air assembly) is ‘pure democracy’ 

The certificate will also not be required for protests and demonstrations, but masks are also recommended where distance cannot be kept. 

Visiting hairdressers, doctors, psychologists and counselling services, tattoos and cosmetic services will not require a Covid certificate. 

While the certificate must be shown indoors in bars and restaurants, 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). 

Staff will not need to have Covid certificates, however staff members will need to wear masks unless they have a valid Covid certificate.

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. 

In the workplace, a Covid certificate is not required although your boss is allowed to ask if you have one – and make changes accordingly (i.e. installing more protective equipment, requiring masks etc). 

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

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For members


EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

The EU has announced that its Covid travel certificate will be extended until 2023. Claudia Delpero looks at what this mean if you have a trip planned this year.

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

Cleaning up the phone and thinking of getting rid of that Covid app? Just wait a minute. 

The European Union has decided to extend the use of EU Covid certificates by one year, until June 30th 2023. 

The European Commission first made the proposal in February as the virus, and the Omicron variant in particular, was continuing to spread in Europe. At that point it was “not possible to determine the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 or of the emergence of new variants,” the Commission said. 

Now tourism is taking off again, while Covid cases are on the rise in several European countries.

So the EU has taken action to ensure that travellers can continue using the so-called ‘digital green certificates’ in case new restrictions are put in place after their initial deadline of June 30th, 2022. 

What is the EU ‘digital green certificate’?

If you have travelled within the EU in the last year, you have probably already used it.

On 1st July 2021, EU countries started to introduce the ‘digital green certificate’, a Covid pass designed by the European Commission to facilitate travel between EU member states following months of restrictions.

It can be issued to EU citizens and residents who have been vaccinated against Covid, have tested negative or have recovered from the virus, as a proof of their health status. 

Although it’s called a certificate, it isn’t a separate document, it’s just a way of recognising all EU countries’ national health pass schemes.

It consists of a QR code displayed on a device or printed.

So if you live in an EU country, the QR code issued when you were vaccinated or tested can be scanned and recognised by all other EU countries – you can show the code either on a paper certificate or on your country’s health pass app eg TousAntiCovid if you’re in France or the green pass in Italy. 

Codes are recognised in all EU 27 member states, as well as in 40 non-EU countries that have joined the scheme, including the UK – full list here.

What does the extension of certificates mean? 

In practice, the legal extension of the EU Covid pass does not mean much if EU countries do not impose any restrictions.

It’s important to point out that each country within the EU decides on its own rules for entry – requiring proof of vaccination, negative tests etc so you should check with your country of destination.

All the EU certificate does is provide an easy way for countries to recognise each others’ certificates.

At present travel within the EU is fairly relaxed, with most countries only requiring negative tests for unvaccinated people, but the certificate will become more relevant again if countries impose new measures to curb the spread of the virus. 

According to the latest data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, countries such as France, Portugal and parts of Italy and Austria are in the red again. 

The EU legislation on the certificate neither prescribes nor prohibits such measures, but makes sure that all certificate holders are treated in the same way in any participating country. 

The EU certificate can also be used for access to venues such as bars and restaurants if countries decided to re-impose health or vaccines passes on a domestic basis.

So nothing changes?

In fact, the legislation introduces some changes to the current certificates. These include the clarification that passes issued after vaccination should reflect all doses administered, regardless of the member state where the inoculation occurred. This followed complaints of certificates indicating an incorrect number of vaccine doses when these were received in different countries.

In addition, new rules allow the possibility to issue a certificate of recovery following an antigen test and extend the range of uthorised antigen tests to qualify for the green pass. 

To support the development and study of vaccines against Covid, it will also be possible to issue vaccination certificates to people participating in clinical trials.

At the insistence of the European Parliament, the Commission will have to publish an assessment of the situation by December 31st 2022 and propose to repeal or maintain the certificate accordingly. So, while it is extended for a year, the certificate could be discontinued earlier if it will no longer be consider necessary. 

The European parliament rapporteur, Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, said: “The lack of coordination from EU governments on travel brought chaos and disruption to the lives of millions of Europeans that simply wanted to move freely and safely throughout the EU.

“We sincerely hope that the worst of the pandemic is far behind us and we do not want Covid certificates in place a day longer than necessary.”

Vaccination requirements for the certificate

An EU certificate can be issued to a person vaccinated with any type of vaccine, but many countries accept only EMA-approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Valneva and Janssen) – if you have been vaccinated with another vaccine, you should check the rules on the country you are travelling to.  

Certificates remain valid for 9 months (270) days following a complete vaccination cycle – so if you had your vaccine more than nine months ago you will need a booster in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

There is no requirement for a second booster, so if you have had a booster you remain ‘fully vaccinated’ even if your booster was administered more than 9 months ago. 

As of 1st March 2022, EU countries had issued almost 1.2 billion EU Covid certificates, of which 1.15 billion following vaccination, 511 million as a result of tests and 55 million after recovery from the virus. 

France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Austria are the countries that have issued the largest number of EU Covid certificates.