EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland's new travel and Covid certificate rules?
Starting on September 20th, Switzerland is introducing new measures for travellers entering the country who have not been vaccinated against Covid or recovered from the disease. There are changes for vaccinated tourists as well.
The new travel rules are being implemented a week after the Covid certificate became compulsory to access almost all indoor areas in Switzerland, including restaurants, bars, fitness centres, sports events, cultural facilities, as well as some gatherings such as weddings in private venues.
New vaccine types are now recognised for foreign tourists
Prior to September 20th, only vaccines approved for use in Switzerland — Pfizer/Biontech, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson — were accepted for the Covid certificate.
But from Monday, foreign visitors vaccinated abroad with a jab approved by the European Medicines Agency will be able to obtain a Swiss Covid certificate.
This includes people vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
Two tests to enter Switzerland are now required for the unvaccinated and unrecovered
Unvaccinated arrivals and those who have not contracted and recovered from the virus in the past six months must show two negative tests.
When arriving, they must show proof of a negative test upon arrival in Switzerland, regardless of the means according to which they have arrived.
Four to seven days later, they will have to undergo another test, which they must pay for themselves.
Both PCR and antigen results are accepted.
Keep in mind that these rules only apply to arrivals from countries not on the SEM high-risk list. As the United States and United Kingdom are considered high risk, only vaccinated people from those countries can arrive in Switzerland. Click here for more information.
You can find a testing centre anywhere in Switzerland here.
The result of the second test must be sent to the cantonal health office where the person took the test.
Why are unvaccinated and unrecovered arrivals required to test twice?
The government wants to “prevent an increase in the number of infections caused by people returning from the autumn holidays” — a two-week school break during October.
“This comes in response to experience made after the summer holidays: data from the cantonal contact tracing offices indicates that returning holidaymakers contributed to the worsening situation after the summer”, the Federal Council said in a statement.
“The new rules reflect the fact that the highly contagious Delta variant can cause case numbers to rise very rapidly on a regional basis”.
Another requirement: a form
All travellers– whether vaccinated, recovered or with a negative test – must also complete the passenger locator form before entering Switzerland.
“This will enable the cantons to carry out random checks to determine whether people who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered and who entered the country with a test have actually taken the second test after four to seven days”, the Federal Council said.
Whoever violates these rules will incur a fine of 200 francs for entry without a test certificate and 100 francs for an incomplete form.
Exemptions to the rule
The test and entry form requirements do not apply to travellers in transit through Switzerland without stopping, drivers who transport people or goods professionally, cross-border commuters, and people entering from border areas.
Children under 16 are also exempt from the test requirement, according to the Federal Council.
Can you now use the UK's NHS app in Switzerland?
Currently, apps from other EU countries can be used in Switzerland anywhere where the Covid certificate is accepted.
The situation for non-EU apps is more difficult.
As yet, any apps from outside the EU are not accepted, including the NHS app and Israel’s Green Pass app.
When Switzerland expanded the Covid certificate framework, it said non-EU apps “may be recognised” at some point in the future.
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