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What are the Covid rules for Switzerland’s Christmas markets?

A Covid certificate is compulsory to access Christmas market in Zurich.
3G rules: You will have to show your Covid certificate to enter Zurich’s Christmas market. Photo: Zurich.com
With many holiday markets across Switzerland opening before the end of November, these are the rules you need to know before you go.

Most (though not all) Swiss markets are back again this year, bringing at least some comfort and joy after one of the nation’s favourite festive pastimes fell victim to the pandemic in 2020.

The unmistaken whiff of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts will fill the air, making us believe that, once again, all is (almost) well with the world.

“Almost” is the key word here, as markets will not be quite as carefree as they used to be in the past, but will have to follow some rules, specifically related to the use of Covid certificates.

The certificates are compulsory in all enclosed areas where food and drinks are served, but whether or not they are required to enter the market is a bit of a grey area — or, more specifically, red and orange.

Red versus orange

The reason why some markets require certificates and others don’t is their interpretation of federal rules.

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has established three zones — red, orange, and yellow — each determining to what extent the certificate must be used.

The red zone lists, in addition to venues and activities such as restaurants and bars, large-scale events for over 1,000 people. Red zone events require a Covid certificate. 

The orange zone, on the other hand,  includes “public events with an audience or spectators (up to 1,000 people)” as well as “trade and consumer fairs with more than 1,000 visitors”.

For the orange events the certificate is not required and “businesses are free to decide whether they want to limit access to people with a Covid certificate. If they do, they can dispense with precautionary measures, limits on capacity and the collection of contact data”, FOPH said.

Since Christmas markets are not mentioned specifically under either zone, some organisers are complying with the red measures, while others have opted, arbitrarily, to adopt the less strict orange rules.

These are the markets complying with red-zone regulations, meaning that a valid Covid certificate is required. 

Geneva, November 18th to 26th

Entry conditions to the Jardin Anglais market: anyone over age of 16 must have a valid Covid certificate and an identity document.

Inside the market there is no need for a mask, and you will have access to all indoor and outdoor infrastructure.

Zurich, Weinachtsdorf, November 25th to December 23rd

To access this market, people over 16 will need “a Swiss or EU certificate and a valid ID”, even for outdoors.

If you have a non-EU certificate with a vaccine approved by the WHO (Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Covaxin) you must have your pass converted into a Swiss certificate.

You can get information into converting your certificate here:

Canton-by-canton: How visitors can get Switzerland’s Covid certificate

Travel: Which foreign Covid certificates does Switzerland recognise?

Bern, Sternenmarkt, November 25th to December 31st

 “Our event is based on the FOPH requirements of the 3G access control with certificate”, organisers said.

The entry rules to the market are identical to Zurich’s: everyone over 16 must present a certificate and identification, and have non-EU health passes converted to the Swiss version.

Basel, November 28th to December 23rd

While initially organisers said certificates would not be required to access its markets on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz, they changed the rule on November 17th.

“Individuals aged 16 and over must present a Covid certificate and an official ID to enter the indoor areas of restaurants, cultural institutions and recreational facilities, and to attend certain events”, they said. 

Orange-zone markets

In these markets, a Covid certificate is not required, unless accessing indoor restaurants and other venues.

Lausanne, November 28th to December 23rd

The certificate is not required for outdoor areas, but is compulsory to access indoor bars to and restaurants.

To avoid having to show your certificate each time you enter an enclosed area where food is served, you can present the certificate only once at one of the market entrances and get a bracelet  that will give you access to all the indoor restaurants.

Montreux, November 19th to December 24th

The Christmas market “is mostly accessible without a mask or a Covid certificate, but with social distancing”, organisers said.

However, the certificate and identity card must be shown by anyone over 16 “to enter our chalet-restaurants, enclosed/indoor attractions and some of our eating areas”.

Are you planning to visit markets other than the ones mentioned above?

This site lists all the markets scheduled to take place in Switzerland in the coming days. You can click on their official websites to see what entry requirements are in place.

READ MORE: Eat, drink and be merry: Switzerland’s best Christmas markets in 2021


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