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KEY POINTS: What are the new Covid travel rules between Switzerland and the UK?

Switzerland has tightened its entry rules for several countries including the UK. Here’s what you need to know.

An engine covered in plastic wrap on the tarmac at Geneva Airport
New restrictions have come into effect in Switzerland, which have an impact on travellers from the UK. Here's what you need to know. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

PLEASE NOTE: Switzerland on December 4th scrapped the quarantine requirement. Click here for more information.

Concern surrounding the Omicron variant has led Switzerland to reinstate strict border measures, despite the corresponding hit to the country’s lucrative winter sports season.  

A new range of restrictions coming into effect on November 26th, including testing and quarantine requirements, along with outright bans. 

For UK arrivals, the rules are not only strict, but they have been uncertain and confusing at times, with the Swiss government initially saying that a ban on all UK arrivals was in place, before clarifying that this was a ten-day quarantine. 

We detailed this confusion here. 

What are the rules for entering Switzerland from the UK?

As of December 1st, the UK is on Switzerland’s virus variant list, having first been placed on this list on November 27th at 8pm. 

Arrivals from countries on this list must quarantine for ten days, regardless of vaccination status (unvaccinated people from the UK are not allowed to enter Switzerland). 

This applies to Swiss citizens, residents and also to tourists or other visitors. If you have been in the UK for a period longer than 24 hours over the past ten days, then you need to quarantine. 

Arrivals need to present a negative PCR or antigen test. Antigen tests are otherwise known as antigen rapid tests or lateral flow tests. 

Once doing so, all arrivals must get in touch with authorities in the canton they are staying in. 

You can find out the information for how to contact the cantons, as well as the procedures they have in place, here.

Between four and seven days after arriving, you need to complete another test – either PCR or antigen – and you need to communicate the result to the cantonal authorities. 

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 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? 

There are also a range of other exceptions laid out in the Covid-19 Ordinance. 

This includes people who transport goods across borders, people who work in public security or order, diplomats, people under 16 and people with compelling medical or professional reasons. 

Professional sportspeople are also exempted from the rule. 

These are laid out in English here. 

How long will these rules be in place? 

The rules were put in place suddenly and without warning, forcing many people to cancel or alter their travel plans. 

Therefore, at this stage it is difficult to say how long the rules will be in place. 

As of December 1st, several cases of the Omicron variant have already been detected in Switzerland, which could mean that efforts to keep it out will be scrapped or at least watered down. 

That said, Switzerland has flagged a range of new measures to be put in place domestically, with travel restrictions often seen as a way of tackling the issue while inflicting comparatively less harm the domestic economy (although the tourist industry is unlikely to agree). 

These new measures are set to remain in place until January 24th, 2022, which is the same day on which the Covid certificate requirement is set to expire.

However, the Covid certificate can be extended if the epidemiological situation requires it, which certainly looks to be the case on current figures.

‘Critical situation’: Switzerland’s new coronavirus hotspots

Furthermore, with a majority of voters approving the certificate at a referendum in late November, it seems unlikely that it would be scrapped just two months later. 

Therefore, at this stage it is difficult to determine how long the travel rules will be in place, but people should think twice before making Christmas and New Year travel plans to Switzerland. 

Member comments

  1. Yes, interesting to predict how long the 10 day quarantine will remain. As the new variant has already arrived in Switzerland, and infection rates are possibly/probably at a similar level to numbers in the UK, not sure the quarantine will help much. Plus, within two weeks we’ll be clearer about whether existing vaccines do offer protection. Hoteliers will be hoping the quarantine requirement is lifted this side of Christmas – or the Swiss hospitality industry may be taking an unnecessary hit, which it can ill afford.

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US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Authorities in the USA have announced the end of the Covid-testing requirement for arrivals from Europe, meaning that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Europe and the US without needing pre-travel tests.

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Most of Europe had dropped the testing requirement for fully-vaccinated arrivals in the spring, but the US has maintained the requirement to show proof of a negative test for all arrivals.

However on Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would not renew the testing requirement.

The new rule is expected to come into effect at 12.01 Sunday EDT, until then passengers will still need to show a negative Covid test before they can board a plane to the US.

The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entry – although this does not apply to US citizens, US residents or those travelling for essential reasons – there was no announcement on lifting this restriction. 

The CDC said that testing requirements could be reinstated if new variants of Covid emerge, and added that it continues to recommend pre-travel testing. 

Covid travel rules vary between individual countries in Europe, but most countries now only require pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers. Check the rules of the country you are travelling to for full details. 

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ travellers must have received both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (or a single dose of Janssen).

If their vaccination was more than nine months ago, they need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated – people who have had a booster do not need a second, even if their booster shot was more than nine months ago.