Switzerland imposes new Covid-19 entry rules for some travellers

Airlines and bus companies will be responsible for ensuring that travellers to Switzerland have completed the Passenger Locator Form and can present a Covid certificate or a negative test result. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

Anyone entering Switzerland who has not been vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the virus must provide a negative Covid test result from September 20, the government said on Friday. The new measure has been taken to prevent further spread of the virus.

This content was published on September 17, 2021 minutes

"The Federal Council (executive body) wants to prevent an increase in the number of infections caused by travellers returning home from autumn vacation," the government said in a statementExternal link, referring to a two-week school break in October.

From Monday September 20, travellers aged over 16 entering Switzerland who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered from Covid-19 will have to present a negative test result (PCR or antigen), irrespective of where they are travelling from or by which means of transport they are entering the country.

They will then have to be tested again after four to seven days, the government said. The result of the second test must be sent to the relevant cantonal office.

Testing is not required for vaccinated or recovered travellers who can present a Covid certificate or other valid proof of vaccination or recovery.

Forms, fines and cross-border workers

All travellers, whether vaccinated, recovered or with a negative test, will also be required to fill out an online form (Passenger Locator Form, SwissPLFExternal link).

The cantons may carry out random checks to ensure that incoming travellers who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered have actually taken the required second test. Fines may be imposed if these rules are breached (CHF200 for missing test certificates and CHF100 ($108) for incomplete forms).

The test and entry form requirements do not apply to travellers in transit through Switzerland without stopping, drivers who transport people or goods professionally, and cross-border commuters or people entering from border areas. 

From September 20, anyone who has been vaccinated abroad with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and who is resident in or travelling to Switzerland will be able to obtain a Swiss Covid certificateExternal link.

Meanwhile, existing rules for entering Switzerland remain unchanged, the government said. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) continues to operate a list of Covid high-risk countriesExternal link, which is used to determine who may enter Switzerland. Any non-Schengen state not on this list is still considered a risk country for which restrictions on entry to Switzerland apply to unvaccinated third-country nationals.

Fourth wave

In recent days, Switzerland has tightened curbs to quash a fourth wave of infections that is putting pressure on hospitals. On September 13, it expanded the use of the so-called Covid certificate to access indoor spaces like restaurants, bars and museums.

The virus situation remains tense, say health officials. Since mid-August the number of new cases has stagnated at a high level (around 2,500 new cases a day). The situation is largely due to the highly infectious Delta variant affecting unvaccinated people, mainly in the 10-29-year-old age group.

"Infections are going down, but they remain at a high level - too high," Health Minister Alain Berset told a press conference in Bern on Friday, adding intensive care units at Swiss hospitals remained busy.

Just over 53% of the population have been fully (two jabs) vaccinated, which is lower than in neighbouring countries.

Pay for Covid tests from October 1?

It remains unclear if the Federal Council will go back on its decision to make asymptomatic people pay for Covid tests after October 1. Health Minister Alain Berset said on September 17 that the government was aware of the difficulties that this measure entailed for certain people, especially those awaiting a second Covid vaccine dose. "We are going to study solutions for these people," Berset announced. A decision will be taken at the next government meeting.

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