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EXPLAINED: Why did Switzerland relax Covid quarantine rules?

With infections skyrocketing, why did Switzerland decide to relax the quarantine rules? 

A positive Covid antigen test seen up close. Photo by Medakit Ltd on Unsplash
A positive Covid antigen test seen up close. Photo by Medakit Ltd on Unsplash

On the same day the Swiss government announced the quarantine rule would be shortened, Switzerland recorded the highest ever number of cases in a 24-hour period: 32,881. 

However, although the situation is serious in some hospitals and ICUs in Switzerland, hospitalisations have not followed a parallel trend alongside case numbers as they did earlier in the pandemic. 

READ MORE: Why hospitalisations in Switzerland are not increasing despite soaring infections

The government indicated that the less dangerous nature of the Omicron strain allowed a relaxation of the quarantine rules. 

“People who have been vaccinated or have previously recovered from COVID-19 are far less likely to require hospital treatment after becoming infected with the Omicron variant than with the Delta variant.”

“The proportion of people admitted to hospital who have to be treated in intensive care is also lower.”

READ MORE: Switzerland to cut quarantine period for vaccinated and extend current measures

Clearly, by turning the screws on the country’s sizeable unvaccinated population, the government believes the pandemic can be brought to an end. 

“New scientific findings also confirm that the third vaccine dose significantly helps to prevent hospital admissions. Vaccination continues to offer the best protection against severe illness and long-term consequences.”

In addition, the high number of people in quarantine threatened to bring the country to a standstill. 

As The Local Switzerland reported earlier in January, more than 100,000 people are in quarantine, which placed significant risk on the country’s infrastructure and services. 

“Cantonal contact tracing capacity as well as the economy and society have come under increased pressure as the number of people affected by isolation and quarantine requirements has risen sharply in recent weeks.”

Finance Minister Ueli Maurer told SRF on Sunday “it is actually appropriate that we reconsider the quarantine period.”

Some cantons have shortened the quarantine from ten days to seven days, while Cantonal Health Directors are pushing for it to be further capped at five days. 

Maurer said the quarantine for coming into contact with a positive-tested person should be abolished completely, although there have been no further indications the Swiss government intends to do this. 

Covid-19: Most Swiss cantons shorten their quarantine requirements

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TRAIN TRAVEL

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it also has a great location right in the centre of Europe, making it an ideal starting point for train travel. Here are five destinations you can reach in less than five hours from Zurich.

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

As summer is still in full swing and there are many vacation days (or free weekends) to enjoy the sunny weather, it’s not the wrong time to do some travelling. Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it’s also centrally located in Europe. This means that many major European cities are reachable in just a few hours.

If you are located in Zurich, for example, then you are very near Germany, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria. In less than five hours, visiting beautiful cities in these five countries is possible by taking a comfortable train ride.

So, select your final destination, get your ticket, and enjoy the ride.

READ ALSO: Switzerland’s ten most beautiful villages you have to visit

From Zurich to Strasbourg

It will take you just about 2 hours and 30 minutes (including time to stop and change trains in Basel) to get from Zurich’s mains station to the beautiful and historical city of Strasbourg, in northeast France.

Prices vary depending on several factors, but we found one-way tickets for just around CHF 23 on a Friday.

From Zurich to Munich

The capital of Bavaria can be reached from Zurich’s central station on a direct train in just 3 hours 30 minutes, allowing for short stays.

Munich may seem quite far away on a map, but the fast trains without stopovers actually make the journey quick and pleasant. We found one-way tickets for around CHF 70 on a Friday trip.

From Zurich to Vaduz

The capital of Liechtenstein is easy to reach in less than 2 hours from the Zurich central station. In fact, some journeys will take just about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The lovely town bordering Switzerland has many tourist attractions, from its pedestrian historical centre to castles and parks. Train ticket prices always vary, but we found tickets for a one-way journey on a Friday costing CHF 20.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are the best night train routes to and from Switzerland?

From Zurich to Milan

Depending on the train you take, you can get from Zurich to Italy’s fashion capital in three to four hours with a direct train.

Before 2016, when the Gotthard Base Tunnel was opened to rail traffic, a trip from Zurich to Milan took an hour longer. It’s possible to find tickets for about CHF 70 for a one-way trip on a Friday.

From Zurich to Innsbruck

From Zurich, it is possible to hop on a direct train and, in just over 3 hours and 30 minutes, arrive in the beautiful town of Innsbruck, in the mountains of Tyrol.

Ticket costs vary, but we found tickets for a relatively short-notice one-way trip on a Friday (without discounts) for CHF 84.

READ ALSO: Five beautiful Swiss villages located near Alpine lakes

Cost:

Fares depend on several factors, such as time of the day and day of the week when you travel.

While a rock-bottom cheap fare may be available one day in the morning, it won’t necessarily be offered the next day (or week) in the afternoon, or vice-versa.

Prices also depend on whether you are entitled to any discounts and which wagon you choose.

If you are interested in travelling farther afield, including with night trains, or if you are in other Swiss cities, these articles provide more information:

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