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Switzerland to scrap quarantine requirement for all arrivals

Switzerland is to remove the need for travellers arriving from any country to enter quarantine. From Saturday it will replace the requirement with more extensive testing measures.

An Airbus A320 plane of Swiss International Air Lines is landing on November 12, 2012 in Geneva. The company owned by German airline Lufthansa said it would cut flights to Athens and Madrid, both hard-hit by the eurozone crisis, and would expand its flights to more lucrative destinations.  AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)
Switzerland on Friday announced new entry rules. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Please note, new measures are now in effect. Click here for more information. 

Switzerland’s expanded Covid measures, which will apply from December 6th, will include an expansion of the Covid certificate requirement, a shortening of the period antigen tests are valid for as well as a more comprehensive mask requirement.

The quarantine requirement for arrivals will also be scrapped from Saturday, December 4th, with tougher testing requirements put in place to control the spread of the Omicron variant. 

READ MORE: Switzerland announces tighter Covid measures

From Saturday, all countries currently on Switzerland’s quarantine list, which included the UK, Australia, the Netherlands and Denmark, will be removed. 

The announcement is a boost for Switzerland’s struggling ski industry, who were set to again incur big losses if the requirement would have been kept in place. 

All countries removed

“All countries are removed from the quarantine list as of Saturday,” the government said. Everyone entering Switzerland must present a negative PCR test, except those crossing the border from neighbouring Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Liechtenstein.

Instead, people arriving will need to complete two PCR tests, one before arriving and one between four and seven days after arrival. 

This will be for all entrants, regardless of vaccination status.

“In order to prevent the introduction of the new Omicron variant as far as possible, a more stringent test regime now applies to all entries into Switzerland. This compulsory test also applies to vaccinated and recovered people. “

People will need to pay their own test costs. 

One important point to note is that those travelling from the following border areas of Switzerland’s neighbouring countries are not subject to the testing requirements.

Areas in Germany: State of Baden-Württemberg and State of Bavaria.

Areas in France: Regions Grand-Est, Bourgogne / Franche Comté and Auvergne / Rhône-Alpes.

Areas in Italy: Piedmont, Aosta Valley, Lombardy and Trentino / South Tyrol regions.

Areas in Austria: Land Tirol and Land Vorarlberg.

Territories in Liechtenstein: entire Principality

Around 340,000 workers a day cross the border into the landlocked country. People must be tested again between the fourth and seventh day after entering Switzerland.

Those already in quarantine are immediately free to go but must do the day four to seven test.

The Swiss government also said non-vaccinated foreign tourists from any region deemed at risk in Europe’s Schengen open-borders area would no longer be able to enter. Covid-19 vaccines will remain free and easily available in 2022, the government announced.

Infections increasing for weeks

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said the expansion of measures was necessary due to the deteriorating Covid situation in the country. Switzerland has recorded record new infections over the past week, while ICUs in several cantons are at full capacity.

“The infections have been increasing sharply for a few weeks. In addition to local outbreaks, mainly in schools and in old people’s and nursing homes, the virus is also spreading again among the broader population” the government said in a statement. 

While the measures will be stricter than those currently in place, they are more relaxed than those initially forecast by the federal government on Tuesday, with the controversial Covid certificate requirement in private homes being rejected by the cantons.

READ MORE: How will Switzerland enforce the Covid certificate in private homes?

The measures will be in place until January 24th at the earliest.

Member comments

  1. My friend is flying from Spain in Saturday and has no time to take PCR and get the result. Does the new rule apply from Saturday ? I can’t see anything that there will be some transition period? I assume lots of countries will be in same situation of needing a PCR but no time to take it on Saturday. Thanks for any advice

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TRAVEL NEWS

The Covid rules you should know if you’re travelling from Switzerland this summer

When it comes to Covid regulations in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe, the situation is certainly much more relaxed than it was last summer. However, certain countries still maintain rules in regards to vaccinations and masks.

The Covid rules you should know if you're travelling from Switzerland this summer

Months ago, health experts predicted that coronavirus will not be circulating extensively during the summer months and won’t strike us again before the weather turns cold in the fall / winter.

But as it turns out, these forecasts were wrong, as Omicron and its highly contagious sub-variants keep infecting increasing numbers of people across Europe.

In Switzerland, the number of reported contaminations has risen from under 10,000 a week in May to 33,108 registered in a span of seven days on June 28, with officials expecting an explosion in cases as summer progresses.

READ MORE: ‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

What does this mean for international travel?

As of right now (and the situation could change in coming weeks), Switzerland doesn’t require either testing or proof of vaccination upon entry. This is also the situation in many other countries in Europe as well as farther afield.

However, some popular European tourist destinations still (or again) have Covid-related entry regulations in place, as well as rules inside the country.

This is an overview of the places where people who live in Switzerland like to spend their summer holidays:

France

Entry requirements:

For vaccinated persons, full vaccination for at least one week must be proven. The last dose must be less than nine months old. Cured people can travel a week after receiving a single dose.

For recovered people: the positive result of a PCR test more than 11 days old and less than six months.

For non-vaccinated persons: a negative PCR test dated less than 72 hours or an antigen test carried out less than 48 hours before departure. Children under 12 are exempt.

On-site measures:

Wearing a mask on public transport, which has not been required since May 16th, is once again strongly recommended — though not compulsory.

Italy

While proof of vaccination or negative test is not required to enter Italy, there are some mask requirements in place in the country.

From mid-June, Italian government extended the obligation to wear FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30th, except on planes. The surgical mask is also still compulsory from the age of six in health establishments.

Portugal

Proof of full vaccination for at least 14 days is required to enter, with the last dose no older than 270 days ago. Swiss Covid certificates should suffice.

For recovered people, proof of recovery dating from 11 to 180 days before arrival in Portugal is required.

The unvaccinated should have a negative PCR test dated less than 72 hours or an antigen test carried out less than 24 hours before departure.

Children under 12 are exempt from these requirements.

Also, all travellers must fill out a passenger locator card before departure, as well as a form required by the Portuguese health authorities before their departure or during the flight.

On-site measures:

Portugal decided on April 21st to end the obligation to wear a mask indoors. However, masks are still required on public transport, hospitals or retirement homes.

These are the regulation for mainland Portugal; those visiting Madeira, can see the rules in this link.

Spain

Since June 2nd, travellers from a Schengen area (which includes Switzerland) are no longer subject to any health checks upon arrival.

On-site measures:

Spain lifted the requirement to wear a mask indoors on April 20th. The mask is, however, still required from the age of six on public transport, in hospitals and retirement homes. Differences may exist between regions, so consult the websites of individual areas.

Austria

Since May 16th, travel restrictions have been lifted. Nevertheless, an FFP2 mask remains compulsory from the age of six for flights to and from the Vienna region.

On-site measures

FFP2 masks are mandatory from the age of 14 on public transport and in pharmacies in Vienna.

Germany

Since June 1st and until at least August 31st, entry restrictions to Germany have all been suspended.

On-site measures:

No vaccination or testing rules on entry, but restrictions remain in some federal states, so check local websites for more information.

Wearing a mask remains compulsory from the age of six on public transport and in medical establishments. To go to the hospital, an antigen test of less than 24 hours or PCR of less than 48 hours is required.

READ MORE: EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

United Kingdom

There are no more Covid restrictions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and arrivals no longer need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before arriving in the UK.

United States

According to the US Embassy in Switzerland, “air travelers to the United States are no longer required to show a negative COVID-19 test result, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19, prior to boarding a flight to the United States”.

However, there are different requirements for different categories of travelers: “all non-U.S.-citizen, nonimmigrant (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa) airline passengers traveling to the United States, must demonstrate proof of vaccination prior to boarding a U.S. bound aircraft”.

If you want to find out what the latest requirements are at your destination, you can do so by checking out the websites of their embassies in Switzerland, or official tourist bodies for each country / region.

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