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EXPLAINED: Everything tourists should know about skiing in Switzerland

Resorts can introduce stricter rules to prevent virus from spreading
Riding on an open chairlift adds to the fun of skiing in the Swiss Alps. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini /AFP
Ski season is about to begin in the Swiss Alps. Here’s what you can expect in resorts and on the slopes.

Switzerland’s pistes were closed to tourists and visitors over the past winter due to Covid and various travel restrictions, and only Swiss residents were allowed to hit the slopes.

This year, skiers from abroad are welcome, with a few high-altitude resorts already opened and others resuming their operations in the coming days and weeks.

This link shows official opening days for various Swiss resorts.

Winter sports: Which Swiss ski resorts are already open?

Ski industry is (almost) back to normal now but some rules relating to entry into Switzerland and behaviour in resorts are in place.

Crossing the border

How easily you can enter the country depends on your vaccination and immunity status, as is the case in most of Europe.

To prove you are either vaccinated or have recovered from Covid within the past six months you will need a vaccination certificate or a health pass issued by your country, a document that is equivalent to Switzerland’s Covid certificate.

If you have such a document, you will have unrestricted entry, regardless of where you are travelling from

READ MORE: Who can enter Switzerland right now and what are the rules?

Switzerland accepts the following vaccines for entry and access to the Covid certificate: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Covaxin.

After you arrive, you can convert your country’s health pass into the Swiss certificate, which is required to access restaurants, bars, gyms, private parties and a range of other indoor areas. 

Issuing Covid certificates is up to health authorities in every canton. Foreigners can get a Covid certificate through a federal government site. The direct link to the government site is here. 

This process is free except for tourists from non-EU /EFTA countries — including from the US, India and the UK — who will have to pay 30 francs for this service.

Most cantons have an online portal that you can use to request a certificate ahead of time. Just as an example, in Valais, a popular ski destination for foreign tourists, you can request your certificate here.

Some visitors have told us that they were not charged when booking in their canton, so this may be an option for people wanting to save CHF30. 

READ MORE: Swiss Covid certificate no longer free for US/UK visitors

What if you are not vaccinated?

Unvaccinated people from countries not on Switzerland’s high-risk list will not be banned from entry. 

However, they will have to complete two negative tests or show proof that they have recovered from the virus in the past six months. 

When arriving, you must show proof of a negative test; four to seven days later, you will have to undergo another test, which you must pay for yourself.

EXPLAINED: Who can enter Switzerland right now and what are the rules?

Both PCR and antigen results are accepted. 

The rules are much tighter for the unvaccinated travellers from high-risk countries, who are banned from entry altogether. 

Switzerland’s official list of high-risk nations can be seen here.

Even those who have had the virus and recovered the past six months or those who have tested negative will not be allowed to enter from those countries.

Snow business: How to find a job in winter sports in Switzerland

And regardless of whether you are vaccinated or not, you must fill out this entry form.

You will have to show the QR code it generates before boarding the plane or upon arrival, if asked.

Congratulations, you have made it this far. What’s next?

After everything you went through to get your health pass converted, it may be a bit of a letdown to know that this document is not required for winter sports, either on chairlifts or on the slopes.

READ MORE: Switzerland will not require Covid certificate for winter sports

It is, however, obligatory in bars and restaurants in the ski area, although people eating and drinking on outdoor terraces and balconies will not need it.

But you will also need a certificate to access fitness centres, as well as indoor entertainment venues like clubs.

Hitting the slopes with the Matterhorn as landscape above the ski resort of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

These are general rules, but each ski area can adopt its own, tighter measures if needed.

This is the case of Samnaun, in the eastern canton of Graubünden, which is implementing the so-called “2G rule” for everyone over the age of 12 — that is, only vaccinated or recovered (but not tested) people will be allowed on the slopes.

The reason is a purely geographical one: this resort in Graubünden’s Engadin valley is adjacent to the Silvretta Arena area in Austria, and that country has just introduced the 2-G rule for skiing due to a worsening epidemiological situation there.

This means skiers on the Swiss side of the border will have to adhere to Austria’s rules as well. 

Meanwhile, the Swiss Ski Lifts Association (RMS) has drawn up a health protection plan for the 2021-2022 winter season.

The main change compared to last year concerns the abandonment of the mask on the open chairlifts and in the queues outside.

However, masks will remain obligatory in cable cars and other closed transportation, where windows would be open for better ventilation, and distance between passengers will have to be maintained.

If the overall Covid situation deteriorates, the RMS may introduce new measures, such as limiting the number of people in cable cars to two-thirds of their total capacity.


Member comments

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  1. The 6 month requirement is interesting since most UK 2nd doses occurred before the end of June – so it seems that UK double vax will be out of date for this coming season without a 3rd vax. Perhaps when we get to 20 vaccinations…………..

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