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TRAVEL NEWS

UPDATE: Switzerland confirms only vaccinated Americans and Brits can enter

The Swiss government has confirmed to The Local the rules regarding entry to Switzerland from the United States, United Kingdom and other third countries.

UPDATE: Switzerland confirms only vaccinated Americans and Brits can enter
Planes at Zurich airport. Photo by Pascal Meier on Unsplash

On Monday, September 20th, Switzerland tightened its entry rules in order to combat the continued spread of Covid-19. 

The update however led to some confusion, particularly as a press release from Switzerland’s Federal Council said unvaccinated people or those who have not recovered from the virus recently would need to present a negative test “irrespective of where they are travelling from”. 

While this appeared to indicate that arrival from all countries was possible only with a negative test, the Swiss Secretariat for Migration (SEM) told The Local on Wednesday, September 22nd, that these entry rules only applied to Schengen countries and a handful of ‘third countries’ which were not deemed high risk. 

As a result, unvaccinated people arriving from the United States, the United Kingdom and several other high-risk countries will be restricted from entry to Switzerland until at least January, 2022. 

Even those with proof of recent recovery from the virus – or who have evidence of a negative test – will be prevented from entering Switzerland. 

Switzerland’s SEM’s list of high-risk countries includes Schengen states, along with around 30 nations from across the globe. 

While Australia, Canada, Singapore and Taiwan are on the list, several including India, Israel, the UK and the US are not. 

The official list can be seen here. 

Please keep in mind that Swiss citizens and residents are allowed to enter regardless of vaccination status, as are Americans or Brits who have a valid visa for a Schengen country. 

The list of vaccines accepted for entry into Switzerland is relatively broad and includes several vaccines which are not approved for use in Switzerland itself. 

The list can be seen at the following link. 

UPDATE: Which vaccines are accepted for entry into Switzerland?

Why the confusion?

The reason for the confusion over the rules for entry is that two different Swiss government departments keep two separate lists of entry requirements. 

This has occasionally made it difficult to provide accurate information as to which rules apply. 

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration keeps a list of high risk countries, from which entry is only allowed in certain cases. 

These exceptions include if the person has a visa for another Schengen state, if they’re resident in Switzerland, if they’re a Swiss citizen or if they’ve been vaccinated. 

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health up until recently also kept a list of high risk countries, although this has been abolished as of September 20th. 

The FOPH does require those entering to be either vaccinated, recently recovered from the virus or possess a negative test – however these rules only apply to people who are not on the SEM high risk list. 

Therefore, only those entering from non-high risk countries can do so if they are unvaccinated. They will however need to show a negative test or that they have recovered from the virus recently. Click here for more information

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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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