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WHAT CHANGES IN SWITZERLAND

Everything that changes in February 2022 in Switzerland

From skiing to Covid measures, here's what is set to change in February 2022 in Switzerland.

A person holds an unusually small white clock against a blank background.
Here are some of the changes Switzerland has in store this February. Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Covid certificates to expire

In mid-January, the Swiss government announced it was shortening the duration of Covid certificates from one year to nine months, with the change set to come into effect on February 1st. 

The reason for the shorter 270-day duration of the certificate is new evidence about the duration of protection from either vaccination or contracting the virus and recovering. 

As a result of this change, hundreds of thousands of certificates are set to expire on February 1st – with many of those unaware their certificates are now invalid. 

Anyone who received their second dose before May 2021 and has not received a booster will no longer have a valid certificate from Tuesday, February 1st, onwards. 

Click the following link for more information. 

READ MORE: ‘Hundreds of thousands’ of Covid certificates to expire on Tuesday

Car stickers

You had the entire month of January to purchase the 2022, motorway sticker to affix on your windshield. If you haven’t done it yet, then as of February 1st you could be fined 200 francs if you are caught driving on a motorway without it.

The price of the has remained the same as years prior – 40 francs – and it can be purchased at petrol stations, the post office, and some kiosks.

Here’s more information about this vignette:

Swiss vignette: What you need to know about Switzerland’s motorway charge sticker

The Post will charge for insufficient postage

Price of stamps has increased from January 1st — mail A went up to 1.10 francs and mail B to 90 cents — but the Post has granted a month’s ‘grace period’ for its customers to use up the old stamps.

From February 1st, however, the 10-cent surcharge for A mail and 5-cent for B mail will be billed to the senders who affixed insufficient postage.

If the senders can be identified, the missing value of the stamp will be invoiced to them, in addition  to 1 franc for processing fees.

Testing the alarm signal

The general alarm signal will be tested nationwide, as it is every year on the first Wednesday in February, on February 2nd, at 1.30 pm. The cantons will also broadcast a notification on the Alertswiss channels.

The general alarm signal – a steady oscillating siren lasting one minute – is intended  to alert the population of an impending emergency or disaster. 

From 2:15 to 3 p.m, the “water alert“ signal is tested in those areas that are close to dams.

According to Federal Office for Civil Protection, “The general public is not required to respond in a particular way or take protective measures, but simply requested in advance to excuse the inconvenience caused by the noise of the sirens”.

Swiss to vote on February 13th

Swiss voters will weigh in on four issues in the first referendum of 2022: animal experiments, advertising of tobacco products, stamp duties, and state aid for news media.

While these topics may not be as contentious and divisive as the Covid-19 legislation and Covid-19 certificate that the Swiss voted on in two separate referendums in 2021, these issues do matter to Switzerland’s population.

Click the following link for more info:

Tobacco, tax and animal testing: What’s at stake in Switzerland’s February referendum?

Winter sports

You can actually do other things than ski, but the traditional one-week-long winter break when public schools in Switzerland are off and families typically head to mountain slopes, is staggered throughout February.

It could fall at the beginning or end of the month, depending on the canton.

This year Swiss ski resorts are likely to be busy, as Switzerland is attracting record numbers of foreign tourists thanks to its comparatively relaxed Covid measures, with up to five times as many foreigners on the slopes as before the pandemic.

READ MORE: Skiing: Relaxed Swiss Covid rules attracting ‘record numbers of foreigners’

Covid measures to expire

If the epidemiological situation allows it, the government will end some current coronavirus measures, such as and the obligation to work from home and the quarantine rules on February 2nd. 

READ MORE: Switzerland to end quarantine rules and working from home requirement

The 2G regulations are also set to expire at the end of February (28th), although this may be brought forward if hospitalisations and ICU admissions remain low. 

The Federal Council originally intended to keep all the restrictions in place until the end of March, but gave in to the cantons, which favours a shorter duration.

 

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN SWITZERLAND

Everything that changes in Switzerland in May 2022

From changing Covid rules to the next round of referenda, this is what is happening in Switzerland in May 2022.

Everything that changes in Switzerland in May 2022

May 1st: Labour Day

Like many other countries Switzerland is celebrating Labour Day on May 1st (which has nothing to do with the Labor Day in the United States, which falls on the first Monday of September).

In Switzerland, it is also known as International Workers’ Day and May Day.

As it is falling on a Sunday this year, you will not get half a day off work – although a movement has been kick started to change all that. 

READ MORE: Swiss politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced

May 2nd: All entry restrictions to Switzerland will be lifted

Travellers from abroad will once again be able to enter Switzerland or apply for a visa under the usual (pre-Covid) conditions.

The last entry restrictions still in force be dropped on May 2nd.

On that date, vaccine requirement for all tourists, regardless of where they come from, will fall.

READ MORE: Switzerland to drop vaccine requirement for entry from May 2nd

May 2nd: New Covid certificate enters into force

The Federal Council decided that Covid recovery certificates can be issued on the basis of a positive rapid antigen test or a laboratory-based immunological analysis.

Because of new rules in the EU, these certificates will be recognised internationally. 

They can be issued retroactively for positive test results from October 2nd, 2021. 

However, “because no similar rules existed at EU level at the time, they were only valid in Switzerland. Certificates already issued on this basis must be applied for again and re-issued for international compatibility”.  

May 9th: Consultation for extension of Covid law ends

Although no Covid measures are currently in place in Switzerland – and the few that remain for entering the country will be removed on May 2nd – the legal framework which allows the government to make Covid rules remains in place. 

Currently, the Swiss government is undergoing a consultation with the cantons, which is set to end on May 9th, about the continuation of the framework. 

Issues such as covering the costs for Covid tests and issuing Covid certificates for travel abroad will be discussed. 

While the Covid Act is currently set to expire at the end of 2022, it is expected to be extended until at least June 2024. More information is available here

May 15th: Switzerland votes

In the second of four rounds of national referendums scheduled for 2022, the Swiss will head to the polls on May 15th to decide on three issues: The Film Act, support for European border guards (Frontex), and transplant /organ donation law.

More information about issues at stake can be found here:

EXPLAINED: What’s at stake in Switzerland’s May referendums?

May 26th: Ascension Day

Thursday May 26th will mark the Ascension Day, a religious holiday, which is a national public holiday in Switzerland.  

While the following day, Friday the 27th, is not a public holiday — that is, stores and most other businesses operate as usual — schools and some offices remain closed until Monday.

READ MORE: When are the public holidays in Switzerland in 2022?

Spring in full swing

After a cold and miserable winter and spring, things should improve from May onwards in Switzerland. 

Although May is a notoriously temperamental month – with temperatures hitting highs of 20C degrees in Geneva, Bern, Basel and Zurich – the nights can still get very cold, with lows touching on 0C. 

Whatever you plan on doing in Switzerland in May, channel your inner Swiss and remember that preparation is your friend, so bring appropriate clothing for rain, cold and of course golden sunshine. 

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