TODAY: Switzerland extends Covid certificate for entry to restaurants and bars

Starting on Monday, entry to many indoor venues in Switzerland will be open only to those who have been fully vaccinated, recovered from coronavirus, or tested negative, and have the certificate to prove it.

TODAY: Switzerland extends Covid certificate for entry to restaurants and bars
Good to go: young people show their Covid certificates. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

The decision to extend the certificate is based on the “extremely high” occupancy rates in Swiss hospitals, according to the Federal Council.

“The share of the non-immune population also remains too large to prevent another strong wave of infection”, the government added.

READ MORE: Why does Switzerland have the most Covid-related ICU admissions in Europe?

The certificate is now compulsory to access almost all indoor areas, including restaurants, bars, fitness centres, sports events, cultural facilities, as well as some gatherings such as weddings in private venues.

More specifically, “access to cultural and leisure facilities such as museums, libraries, zoos, fitness centres, climbing halls, swimming pools, water parks, spas, billiard halls and casinos is also limited to Covid certificate holders” the Federal Council said.

The government specified, however, that “to protect fundamental rights, religious ceremonies and political events for up to 50 people are exempt, as are self-help groups”.

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

The new measure will be in effect until January 24th, 2022, but the Federal Council noted it “is ready to extend the deadline if the epidemiological situation requires it”.

The fine for non-compliance with the new rules is 100 francs. The ultimate responsibility for enforcing fines and deciding penalties lies with the cantons. 

Authorities will announce on Tuesday how the new requirement will apply to tourists coming to Switzerland. Health passes or vaccination certificates issued abroad may not be valid in Switzerland, depending on what kind of vaccines are administered in other countries.

More travel-related information can be found here:

UPDATE: Which vaccines are accepted for entry into Switzerland?

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Reader question: Can I get a Covid certificate in Switzerland if I was vaccinated with AstraZeneca?

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Reader question: Which Swiss cantons will keep the Covid certificate in place?

Several Swiss cantons have expressed a desire to keep the Covid certificate in place. What does that mean for the relaxation of Covid measures?

Reader question: Which Swiss cantons will keep the Covid certificate in place?

On Wednesday February 16th, Switzerland announced an imminent relaxation of almost all Covid measures. 

The decision was made after a two-week consultation with Switzerland’s cantons to decide the way forward out of the pandemic. 

The government announced that almost all Covid measures are being relaxed from Thursday, February 17th.

Covid certificates – which show someone has been vaccinated, recovered or in some cases has tested negative – will no longer be required in restaurants, cinemas or at events.

Masks will no longer be required in shops, supermarkets and the workplace, while they will continue to be required in public transport for the meantime. 

More information about the relaxed measures can be found at the following link. 

UPDATE: Switzerland to scrap Covid certificate and most mask rules

What does this mean at a cantonal level? 

While the federal government no longer requires Covid certificates, they can however be required by the cantons, under the new framework.

Swiss media has previously reported that several cantons want to keep the certificate in place.

READ MORE: Swiss cantons divided on ending Covid measures

During the consultation period, several cantons expressed reservations about completely removing the certificate requirement. 

The small, centralised and predominantly German-speaking cantons of central Switzerland — Zug, Schwyz, Uri, Nidwalden, Obwalden and Glarus —  were in the greatest hurry to return to pre-Covid rules.

These cantons argued that a gradual lifting would be too complicated and difficult for the population to understand.

The southwestern canton of Valais preferred this approach as well, but only “as long as the number of cases and hospitalisations continue to decrease by mid-February”. Otherwise, the lifting of the measures should be done in stages.

However, Geneva, Basel-City, Neuchâtel and Jura said it was too early to lift remaining measures.

“It is too risky at the moment, given the still high load in hospitals”, according to Basel-City, which added that “the effects of the first relaxations, such as teleworking and quarantines, are also not yet known”.

Will some cantons still require a Covid certificate?

Berset clarified on Wednesday that while some cantons had argued for this as part of the consultation process (i.e. on a federal level), they would most likely not unilaterally keep the certificate rule in place from February 17th onwards. 

Berset however said he would need to clarify the matter with cantonal representatives and did not rule out some cantons deciding to keep the certificate in place in some instances – for example in relation to nightclubs or large events.

As at Wednesday afternoon, no cantons have indicated they will keep the certificate requirement in place.