Switzerland will no longer require a pre-travel test on Saturday, January 22nd, but only for fully vaccinated tourists, and will also extend Covid quarantine and work-from-home measures until the end of February, according to a press release by the Federal Council.
Those who can present proof of recent recovery from Covid may also enter the country without having to undergo a pre-travel test.
Switzerland abolishes pre-travel test requirement
Swiss authorities have removed the requirement for pre-departure testing for travellers who have been vaccinated against COVID or have recovered from the virus within the past 270 days.
According to a press statement from the Federal Council, the new restrictions will go into effect on Saturday, January 22, but they will not apply to unvaccinated or unrecovered newcomers, who will still be subject to testing requirements in order to enter Switzerland.
Most unvaccinated visitors will still be denied entry, but those who qualify for an exemption will still be required to undergo a test before entering the country, however, they will no longer be required to take post-arrival tests 4 to 7 days after arrival.
Unvaccinated children and adolescents under the age of 18 may enter Switzerland with vaccinated parents or guardians.
The news will be welcomed by individuals who hope to save hundreds of dollars on additional testing, particularly those planning a trip to Switzerland during the busy ski season.
In December, the government added the pre-travel test as one of the conditions in its list of entry requirements in response to fears about the Omicron variant.
Switzerland presently has more confirmed cases per 100,000 people than the UK, with 1,694 confirmed cases in a seven-day period (the UK had 924).
The country’s regulations regarding proof of vaccination will likewise change on January 31, in accordance with the EU’s.
Proof of immunization will be branded with a nine-month expiration date.
This implies that travellers must obtain a booster shot within 270 days after receiving their second vaccination jab so that their vaccine pass remains to be valid. Your booster shot will also be effective for 270 days.
“The Federal Council is shortening the validity period of all vaccination certificates from 365 to 270 days from 31 January. This ensures that the Swiss certificate continues to be recognised in the EU. Certificates issued as proof of recovery from Covid-19 will also only be valid for 270 days,” says the announcement.
Work-from-home policy is extended until February
Switzerland will prolong Covid quarantine and work-from-home measures until the end of February and plans to maintain additional limitations on public life strengthened last month until the end of March in order to avoid another lockdown while the coronavirus pandemic escalates, the government announced on Wednesday.
“In view of the continuing strained situation in hospitals, the Federal Council, after consulting the cantons, social partners, parliamentary committees and relevant associations, is extending the requirement to work from home until the end of February, and the remaining measures until the end of March,” said the Federal Council in a statement.
“All of the cantons generally came out in favour of extending the validity of the measures,” it continued.
These measures included requiring people to provide proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 in order to enter several indoor events, as well as making work from home essential.
Last Monday, the cabinet suggested prolonging the limitations until the end of March, but regional authorities objected, requesting a shorter period.
It further said that as of January 22, those who have been vaccinated and recovered from COVID-19 would no longer be required to provide a negative test result to enter the nation.
Switzerland cut its quarantine period in half this month to five days to assist deal with a wave of Covid infections that threatens to cripple the economy as tens of thousands of people become ill every day.
Officials are concerned that the wave fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant may overwhelm the healthcare system in a nation where only two-thirds of the population has received two vaccination doses and just 35% has received a booster jab.
Since the pandemic began in early 2020, national officials have recorded roughly 1.8 million confirmed illnesses in Switzerland and its small neighbouring principality, Liechtenstein. More than 12,000 people have died as a result of the disease.
Fewer Covid cases were recorded in Switzerland than expected
By limiting the number of people who may attend clubs, discos, and other indoor events to 50, Swiss citizens will be unable to conduct huge events or other gatherings. Furthermore, the necessity to provide contact information has been abolished as of January 25 because of the more restricted contact quarantine enforced.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Switzerland has recorded 136,957 new infection cases and 51 fatalities in the previous seven days.
Health experts are cautiously hopeful, despite the fact that the number of new Covid infections in Switzerland appears to be leveling off.
However, scientists believe that the true number of infections is three times higher than what has been officially verified owing to unrecognized or unreported cases.
“We can be reasonably optimistic,” said Virginie Masserey, a spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Health, at a news conference on Tuesday.
She believes the Omicron wave has reached peak level in Switzerland but warns that it is too early to relax existing health measures because a rise in infections cannot be ruled out.
Official data reveal 29,142 new Covid cases in the last 24 hours, with only a 1% rise in the seven-day average.
The number of admissions in hospitals due to Covid remains stable, whereas the number of patients in critical care is slightly decreasing.
She stated that there are emerging indicators that the Omicron variant is simpler to deal with than the Delta variant.
Similarly, Rudolf Hauri, a senior official with the cantonal health authority, expressed astonishment at the recent figures. “I had also expected to see higher figures,” he commented.
The assertions are in stark contrast to a scenario provided last week by the Covid science task force. It had predicted a significant increase in hospitalizations based on computations.
The government has decided to reduce the isolation and quarantine periods for individuals diagnosed with Covid-19 or those who have come into contact with them. It also urged that current anti-Covid actions be extended through the end of March.
The government is due to address the current Covid policy on Wednesday, following a consultation with the 26 cantons and other organizations in charge of enforcing health regulations.