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UPDATE: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

Switzerland has again updated its entry rules. Here’s what you need to know.

A no entry sign in the middle of the forest
Switzerland has again updated its entry rules. Here's what you need to know. Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev from Pexels

PLEASE NOTE: Switzerland on Friday announced it would be scrapping the quarantine requirement for all arrivals, effective Saturday, December 4th. Please click here for more information. 

Ahead of the coming winter and due largely to concern surrounding the new Omicron variant, Switzerland has again tightened border rules. However, contrary to some media reports, a quarantine “for all arrivals” has not been put in place

Depending on where you are coming in from – and of course on your citizenship or residency status – you may be required to quarantine or even be prevented from entering Switzerland completely. 

If you’re landing in one of Switzerland’s ‘border airports’ – i.e. those which serve more than one country like Basel and Geneva – then read this guide for specific information

Everyone entering Switzerland will need to fill out the entry form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

What are the current rules for entering Switzerland? 

Switzerland’s entry rules often cause confusion because entry is regulated by two different government departments: the Federal Office of Public Health and the State Secretariat for Migration. 

These two departments each have a list of countries deemed ‘high risk’, although the exact consequences of being on these lists differs. 

One, prepared by the Federal Office of Public Health and available here, lists countries with a variant of concern. Entry from countries on that list requires a ten-day quarantine, even if you are vaccinated and even if you are a Swiss citizen or resident.

The full list of countries on this list has changed on a daily basis in end November and is laid out in depth below. 

The other list, prepared by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), covers high-risk countries from which entry is not possible, unless you are a Swiss citizen or resident. The United Kingdom is not on this list. 

The SEM list is as follows: Botswana, Eswatini, Hong Kong, Israel, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

There are a number of exceptions to the rules, for instance for transit or if you work to maintain public order. These are listed here. 

I’m confused about the lists – what does it all mean? 

The rules are certainly confusing – which is not helped by the two lists. 

Put simply, the SEM (State Secretariat for Migration) does not decide quarantine rules, but decides only who can and cannot enter Switzerland.

The FOPH (Federal Office of Public Health) does not decide who can and cannot enter, but decides whether quarantine rules apply, and other measures such as testing. 

The SEM list does not apply to you if you are a Swiss citizen, a Swiss resident or a resident of the Schengen/EFTA zone. I.e. here, your citizenship or residency status matters more than where you are entering from. 

The FOPH list applies to you regardless of where you are from and is determined on the basis of where you are entering from, regardless of citizenship. 

The following graphic from the Swiss government illustrates how this works. 

What about vaccinated and unvaccinated people? 

Generally speaking, greater restrictions apply to vaccinated people than to unvaccinated people re: entering Switzerland. 

Unvaccinated people from outside the Schengen/EFTA states and a handful of other ‘safe’ states on specific list (yes, another, different list which is available here) will not be allowed to enter Switzerland.

This includes the United States and the United Kingdom. More information is available at this link. 

Who is on the ‘variant of concern’ list?

There are approximately two dozen countries on the variant of concern list. Arriving from any country on this list – which means being in one of these countries for the ten days prior to entry – requires a mandatory quarantine regardless of vaccination or residency/citizenship status. 

The list as at November 30 is: Angola, Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Eswatini, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  

The full list of stipulations is illustrated below. 

Image: FOPH

Image: FOPH

Click here for official government information. 

Are there any exceptions? 

One major exception to be aware of is transit. If you land in Switzerland and plan to transit to another country – either by land or by air – you will not have to quarantine in Switzerland (although you still need to fill out the entry form).

More on that is available in the following report.

EXPLAINED: Can travellers land in Switzerland and transit elsewhere under new rules?

How has this changed over time? 

The first countries were added to the list on Friday, November 26th, including Belgium, Botswana, Eswatini, Hong Kong, Israel, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

Czech Republic, Egypt, Malawi, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom were added on Saturday. 

READ MORE: Switzerland imposes quarantine on all arrivals from UK

Switzerland on Monday added another four including Angola, Australia, Denmark and Zambia. 

On Tuesday, Switzerland added Portugal, Canada, Nigeria and Japan.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”