Covid-19 rules For Members

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

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Reader question: Do I have to stay home if I catch Covid in Switzerland after April 1st?
Unmasked: Health Minister Alain Berset removes his mask during a press conference. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

The remaining coronavirus measures, including the obligation to isolate after testing positive, will fall from Friday. This is what you should know about the new, rule-free Switzerland.


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.

This move has been planned since the Federal Council announced the lifting of all the other Covid measures from February 17th.

Does the end of the latter of the two requirements mean you are no longer obligated to stay indoors if you catch Covid?

This is a very pertinent question, especially as for two years, a positive Covid test was followed by a legal obligation to isolate for periods of time ranging from 10 to seven to five days. Those who broke this rule were liable for fines ranging from 50 to 200 francs.

The requirement to isolate was put in place to curb the spread of the virus at a time when the Covid vaccine was not yet available and dominant variants — Alpha and Delta — could lead to a severe course of the disease and serious complications, especially for people with chronic health conditions.


With the emergence of Omicron, however, the Federal Council decided to gradually relax the restrictions, with the last ones falling on April 1st.

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

Health officials explained that while this new variant is much more contagious than previous ones, it is also far less virulent.  Being infected with Omicron brought on only mild symptoms, similar to those of a common cold, in most people, especially those who had been vaccinated.

While a number of epidemiologists warned against the lifting of restrictions, others pointed out that an Omicron infection “is not necessarily bad news because these contaminations contribute to building our immunity”.

READ MORE: ‘Not bad news’: Why Swiss experts are optimistic about rising Covid cases

So does this mean that come Friday, you can throw caution to the wind and come out of isolation while sick?

If you have only mild symptoms and are feeling well, legally there isn't anything to prevent you from going out and about.

There is, however, a thing called  ‘individual responsibility’ that has been mentioned so often during the pandemic.

“Even without an obligation to isolate, a sick person should not go to work or out in public”, said  Patrick Mathys, head of crisis management at the Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH).

While this will not be enforced with fines, the government has appealed to people to take steps to stop the spread once the isolation order is relaxed. 


Whether or not this recommendation is heeded remains to be seen. But if you do decide to go out, keep in mind that you might be infecting vulnerable people, so wear a mask.

While you are no longer required to do so, this act would fall under the aforementioned ‘individual responsibility’ category. After all, not being obligated to wear a mask doesn’t mean you should not wear it in situations when you could pass the virus on too others.

By the same token, people who are at risk if infected — for instance, the elderly or chronically ill — must act responsibly as well by wearing masks and taking other precautions when mingling with (unmasked) people.


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