Switzerland to lift Omicron travel ban on southern African countries

The travel bans imposed on southern Africa were condemned by the region's leaders as disproportionate. Keystone / Kim Ludbrook

Travellers from seven southern African states will once again be allowed to enter Switzerland from January 24, following a temporary ban to limit the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

This content was published on January 21, 2022

The State Secretariat for Migration tweeted on Friday that the entry banExternal link on people from Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa would be lifted on Monday.

The move follows a similar lifting of restrictions by the European Union earlier this month.

At the same time, the migration office said it would add Canada, Australia and Argentina to a list of high-risk Covid-19 countriesExternal link.

Switzerland imposed its “emergency brake” travel ban on the seven African countries on December 1 in an effort to counter the spread of the newly discovered Omicron variant. Bans were also put in place by the EU and other regions, despite protests from South Africa.

But the measures could not halt Omicron taking hold in Switzerland and it became the dominant variantExternal link among new infections by the end of December.

Nearly 40,000 new coronavirus infections were reported on Thursday, but Omicron causes relatively mild symptoms in most people.

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