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TRAVEL NEWS

NEW: The latest travel rules between Switzerland and the USA

After more than 18 months of travel restrictions, America has finally opened its borders to foreign tourists. This is what you should know about travelling to the US from Switzerland.

Vaccines and tests are required for US-bound travellers
American dream: Vacations in the USA are finally possible for residents on Switzerland. Photo by Frank Mckenna on Unsplash

Just in time for Christmas in New York or beach holidays in Florida, the United States is open to international arrivals from November 8th.

However, before you book your ticket and pack a suitcase, familiarise yourself with all the entry rules that are in place for foreign tourists.

Proof of vaccination and Covid test

Unlike most countries in Europe, which require either vaccination or negative Covid test to enter, the US requires both.

“Fully vaccinated travelers will continue to be required to show a pre-departure negative test taken within three (3) days of travel to the United States prior to boarding”, the US Embassy in Switzerland says on its website.

READ MORE: UPDATE: US to lift travel ban for vaccinated Europeans on November 8th

The US defines as “fully vaccinated” those who were inoculated at least 14 days prior to travel with a WHO-approved vaccine — that is, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.

While the US does not give mixed-dose vaccines (for instance, first shot Moderna and the second one Pfizer), but it will accept tourists who had been administered mixed doses.

However it will not accept a single vaccine dose after recovery from Covid, as is standard practice in Switzerland.

US citizens, permanent residents and those travelling to the US on an immigrant visa are not required to show proof of vaccination, only the negative Covid test.

Full requirements can be found here.

Tests

All travellers over the age of two – US citizens included – must show a negative Covid test before boarding. 

If you are fully vaccinated, the test must be taken within 72 hours of travel, while non-vaccinated people must show a test taken within 24 hours of travel.

This could be either an antigen or PCR test.

What kind of proof of vaccinations is accepted?

It must be issued by an official source, such as a public health agency, which administers vaccinations or oversees the immunisation process, according to the he Embassy (which bases its guidelines on rules issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — CDC).

Official Covid certificates issued in Switzerland will be recognised by US authorities as proof of vaccination.

Swiss certificates are valid proof of vaccination to enter the USA: Image: Federal Office of Public Health

However, the United States doesn’t use certificates the way European nations do — for instance, to access indoor venues — so it is unlikely you will be asked to show yours when inside the country.

What else do you need to enter the USA?

Aside from a valid biometric passport, there is one important document that you must print, fill out and sign, as without it you will not be allowed to board the plane.

Called the ‘Passenger Disclosure and Attestation to the United States of America”, this CDC form is easy to miss, as it is often buried among other travel-related information airlines send to passengers as part of an email that comprises booking details, baggage allowance, and mask requirement.

Only the most attentive passenger will notice a link called “Stricter regulations on entering the USA”, which compiles various rules, including this form.

READ MORE: Switzerland-United States travel: The crucial document you might not know about

What airlines are flying to the United States?

Flights between Swiss and US airports didn’t cease to operate during the border closures, as American citizens and permanent residents were allowed to travel to the United States throughout the pandemic. This mostly concerned Americans living abroad, who had to go to the United States for essential reasons.

However, there were only few flights connecting Switzerland to the United States.

The service between the two countries picked up somewhat when Switzerland (and European Union) opened its borders to vaccinated American tourists from June 26th.

Now flying across the big pond will get even easier.

To respond to what travel officials expect to be a growing demand for US-bound flights, United Airlines started flying nonstop between Newark and Geneva on November 1st, and SWISS will operate up to four direct flights a week to JKF in New York from December 14th.

Direct flights between Zurich and the two US airports will also resume in November.

Other airlines will also expand their service between the US airports and the two Swiss hubs.

You can see here which US-bound flights are planned.

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TRAVEL NEWS

SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

The Swiss pilots’ union could go on strike during Switzerland’s busy autumn holiday period.

SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

The union, Aeropers, which has been negotiating salary increases and improved working conditions with Switzerland’s national airline, has rejected the carrier’s latest collective labour agreement (CLA) and is threatening to go on strike.

The  (CLA) is a kind of contract that is negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations. Generally speaking, they cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal.

READ MORE : What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

The pilots said they would cease flying on October 17th, which falls in the middle of school holidays in a number of cantons — the period when many families holiday abroad.

“SWISS has not sufficiently entered into the matter of the legitimate interests of its pilots”, Aeropers said, adding that if the airline doesn’t come up with a better offer, the union “will initiate the procedures for a strike”.

For its part, SWISS said in a press release that it offered its pilots 60 million francs more than on the previous CLA, but “Aeropers executive committee has rejected this latest offer as inadequate, and has made demands of its own totalling over 200 million”.

However, Aeropers head Thomas Steffen has denied SWISS’ claim saying the 200-million figure is “a fantasy number” that has no basis whatsoever. According to Steffen, the pilots’ demand was “significantly less than half of this sum”.

He went on to accuse the airline of “propaganda” at the detriment of its employees”.

He added that the strike would me a last-resort measure if the dispute on pay, which has been going on for a year, is not resolved within a month.

“We’ve negotiated for a year and made sure that our members are level-headed and fly safely and reliably, despite being without a contract,” Steffen said.

If the SWISS cockpit staff, which also includes its sister airline, Edelweiss, does go on strike, it will be the latest labour dispute in Europe’s aviation, which includes a strike by Lufthansa ground crew, which impacted Switzerland over the summer.

However, strikes by Swiss workers is relatively uncommon compared to other countries.

READ MORE: Why are strikes so rare in Switzerland?

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