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Covid: Will Switzerland restrict arrivals from the UK this winter?

A Union Jack - the flag of  the United Kingdom - next to a Swiss flag in Switzerland. Photo: STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP
A Union Jack - the flag of the United Kingdom - next to a Swiss flag in Switzerland. Photo: STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP
Concerns about the Omicron variant have led several countries to prevent or heavily restrict arrivals from the UK. Will Switzerland follow suit?

On Monday, December 20th, Switzerland put in place a range of new Covid measures in order to reduce contact, encourage vaccination and stop the spread of the virus. 

While several of Switzerland’s neighbours such as Germany and France have put in place restrictions on UK arrivals, Switzerland declined to follow suit. 

Instead, Switzerland effectively relaxed entry measures, saying that antigen (lateral flow) tests would be accepted in addition to PCR tests for all arrivals. 

Travel: What are Switzerland’s new entry requirements?

Currently, UK arrivals have been flocking to Switzerland, particularly ahead of the country’s winter sports season. 

As reported in Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes, the closure of several other European countries to UK residents has seen Switzerland become ever more popular with people from the UK. 

While this is good news for Switzerland’s struggling tourism industry, some UK-based readers have asked us if things are set to change in the coming days. 

Close in their memory was the decision in early December to place an immediate ten-day quarantine on all UK arrivals, which came into immediate effect without any notice for possible arrivals. 

What is the current situation regarding UK entry?  

As it stands, the UK is currently on Switzerland’s ‘high-risk’ list, which is set by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). 

READ MORE: Which countries are on Switzerland’s high-risk list?

Arrivals from countries deemed high risk must be fully vaccinated against Covid in order to enter Switzerland. 

In addition, arrivals must show a negative test. 

For PCR tests this can be up to 72 hours old, or for antigen tests up to 24 hours old. 

Will Switzerland restrict arrivals from the UK?

In addition to the SEM high-risk list, the SEM also has a variant list. 

The list includes several countries where an “immuno-evasive virus variant is spreading that is not yet prevalent in Switzerland”. 

These countries are predominantly from Southern Africa: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

UPDATE: Switzerland confirms only vaccinated Americans and Brits can enter

Arrival from these countries is restricted to Swiss citizens and residents. Tourist travel is not allowed. 

With the latest changes coming into effect on Monday, December 20th, it would seem likely that the government would wait to see what the impact of these changes were before putting in any further restrictions. 

Currently (as at December 21st), the Swiss government has no plans to place the UK on this list. 

However, authorities in Germany recently expanded the variant list to include the same southern African countries as well as the UK, meaning such a step is not out of the question. 

Therefore, while there are no indications the list will be expanded, this may change quickly, particularly as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the UK. 

Stay tuned to The Local for up-to-date information on the latest travel rules. 


Member comments

  1. The virus variant is already widespread in Europe and in Switzerland. It looks worse in the UK because the UK carries out more testing, so we are not comparing like with like. Closing borders at this stage has zero health benefit but will cause significant economic damage, for a second winter. Surely that’s not a price worth paying?

    1. Finally, someone with some sense. Of course, the fact that these tests also pick up dead virus present in the host long after that person is contagious is conveniently ignored. And no one is admitting that this omicrom variant is little more than a cold. FACT: If you’re over 70, Covid is marginally more lethal than the flu; under 70 marginally less. Is that reason to shut down the entire world? Where does it end? I tell you one thing, these bloody politicians and policy-makers are loving this. Speaks to their egos and gives them a raison d’etre.

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