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COVID-19 ALERT

Switzerland to remove all Covid measures on Friday

From Friday, April 1st, Switzerland will remove the final Covid measures. It will mark the first time in two years the nation has been free of Covid rules.

A mask lies on the ground in the Swiss canton of Geneva. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
A mask lies on the ground in the Swiss canton of Geneva. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The decision, which was announced on Wednesday afternoon, had been previously laid out by the government in February provided the epidemiological situation remained stable. 

The two Covid-related rules that are still in place — the obligation to wear a mask on public transport and in health establishments, as well as to isolate for five days in case of infection — will fall from April 1st.

As The Local reported in the following piece, anyone who tests positive will no longer need to isolate, although the government has encouraged people to do so wherever possible. 

Reader question: Do I have to stay home if I catch Covid in Switzerland after April 1st?

In addition, masks are now no longer required anywhere in Switzerland, including in shops and on public transport, although transit lines with international connections may ask people to wear masks. 

‘A good situation’

When making the announcement, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said “We are in a good situation.”

“The crisis is not over. But the bad phase of the crisis is over.”

Berset said that although plans are in place in case the situation deteriorates, “the federal government is not planning on returning to the previous situation”. 

Covid infections are still rampant – why are all measures being removed? 

The government said the widespread impact of vaccination as well as the weaker Omicron variant had meant the measures were no longer necessary. 

In addition, the relaxation of the measures in February, while leading to an increase in infections, had not resulted in a notable increase in hospitalisations or fatalities. 

The Swiss government however said that people should be ready for “seasonal waves of illness in the future”. 

‘High degree of aggressiveness’: How Covid has changed Switzerland

The government said it will work with the cantons to put in place a plan for these seasonal waves, which would be implemented ahead of the autumn. 

As with earlier in the pandemic, the cantons are free to put in place Covid measures if they see fit. 

While Switzerland’s Covid app is no longer required, the infrastructure for this app will remain in place for the future, while it is still required in several other countries and for the purposes of travel. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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