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COVID-19 RULES

Switzerland to deactivate SwissCovid app

Switzerland's contact tracing app SwissCovid will be phased out, with the government saying it is no longer necessary.

Switzerland to deactivate SwissCovid app
Auf wiedersehen, au revoir, arrivederci: SwissCovid app is being retired. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

After April 1st, SwissCovid will disappear from the Apple and Google app stores, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

The main reason for the change is the upcoming further relaxation of all Covid measures from April 1st, including the obligation to isolate for anyone who tests positive for Covid. 

“With the lifting of the obligation to isolate in April, the prerequisites for an effective continuation of the SwissCovid app are no longer there, since contact tracing will be greatly reduced”, said FOPH spokesperson Katrin Holenstein.

Depending on how the epidemiological situation develops in the winter of 2022/2023, the operation of the SwissCovid app could be resumed quickly.

“Depending on how the epidemiological situation develops in winter 2022/2023, the operation of the SwissCovid app should be able to be resumed quickly,” Holenstein said.

“Therefore, the necessary IT infrastructures will continue to be maintained in the background.”

The FOPH said no set criteria have been developed according to which the app may be reactivated, although Holenstein confirmed a “deterioration in the epidemiological situation, which would necessitate new measures” would be necessary. 

The app was launched in June 2020 to track infection chains. 

While there were some hiccups during the early days of the app, recent studies have confirmed its effectiveness. 

Swiss news outlet Watson notes that the app “saved lives” and cost the Swiss government a relatively small figure of CHF10million to develop. 

Will Switzerland still lift all remaining Covid restrictions despite rising infections?

On February 16th, the government announced almost all measures in place at that time would be scrapped the following day.

The requirement to show the Covid certificate to access indoor venues fell, and masks were no longer required in most public places, except for public transport and health establishments.

The remaining rules — the requirement to isolate in the event of a positive test and to wear masks on public transport and in healthcare facilities — are set to be dropped from April 1st “if the epidemiological situation continues to evolve as expected”, the Federal Council said.

The key phrase, “if the epidemiological situation continues to evolve as expected”, is not very precise; it is unclear whether it means that infection rates should decline significantly, or whether they should just not keep increasing.

One principal criterion set by the government is that the healthcare system must not be overwhelmed by coronavirus patients, rather than simply infection rates. 

The Federal Council has not yet indicated what the decision will be, even though three members — President Ignazio Cassis, Health Minister Alain Berset, and Minister of Economic Affairs Guy Parmelin — have all recently tested positive to coronavirus.

It is reasonable to assume, however, that if the situation in hospitals doesn’t worsen dramatically in coming days, the remaining restrictions could be lifted, even if cases continue to climb.

More information about the possible development is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland lift Covid restrictions amid rising infections?

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TRAVEL NEWS

Switzerland to drop vaccine requirement for entry from Monday

More than two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, travel to Switzerland is set to return to normal from May 2nd.

Switzerland to drop vaccine requirement for entry from Monday

Despite winding back all Covid measures domestically on April 1st, Switzerland still required visitors from non-European countries to be vaccinated against Covid. 

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration said on Twitter late in late April that all remaining entry rules would be scrapped from Monday, May 2nd. 

What were the rules? 

Up until May 2nd, visitors from the EU/EFTA zone can enter Switzerland without needing to show a vaccination or a test. Those from outside the bloc however need to show either proof of vaccination or recovery, or fit into other exception categories, including being under 18. 

This created a somewhat contradictory situation where Switzerland has some of the most relaxed rules in Europe domestically, but a stricter entry framework than many of its neighbours. 

‘Travelcheck’: This tool shows you what you need to enter Switzerland

As a consequence, Swiss tourism authorities warned that travellers from outside Europe, particularly those from the United States, China, India and the United Kingdom, are taking their tourist dollars elsewhere. 

The Swiss Tourism Association STV submitted a formal request in March that the laws be changed, saying they had put Switzerland at a disadvantage. 

How do I know which rules apply?

One of the most important elements to consider with regard to Covid entry rules is that the country where you reside rather than your nationality is the most important aspect. 

Therefore, if you are an American living in France under the current rules, you can enter without showing proof of vaccination, as you are considered to be entering from France. 

With rules constantly changing and official sources sometimes slow to keep up, the best way to determine the rules which apply in your specific case is the Swiss government’s ‘Travelcheck’ website. 

This is available here. 

The site will ask you certain questions about your situation, although no personal details are required. 

You will then receive a tailored response with advice on your entry situation. 

An extensive set of FAQs is available on the Swiss government website here

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