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Coronavirus: Swiss close transit travel loophole

A man arrives at Zurich airport, earlier in August Keystone / Ennio Leanza

From August 31 people will not be allowed to enter Switzerland from a coronavirus “high-risk” country on a transit flight via a non-risk country, the authorities have announced. 

This content was published on August 31, 2020 - 19:02
SEM/Keystone-SDA/swissinfo.ch/ilj

Those who come to Switzerland from "high-risk countries  - those not in the Schengen zone or on the list of exceptions - will be denied entry, if they do not hold a Swiss passport, Swiss residence permit or EU/EFTA passport. The list of countries deemed high risk is updated regularly by the authorities. 

“Until now, it has been possible to circumvent the entry restrictions by travelling via airports in countries not on the high-risk list,” a State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) statement said on Friday. 

Effectively, the country of departure now counts, not the stopover country, the statement clarified. 

For example, it will no longer be possible for third-country (non-European Union/EFTA) nationals to fly to Switzerland from the USA (on the list, so barred from entry) via Toronto (in Canada, not on the risk list so allowed entry).  

Citizens and residents of Switzerland, in addition to EU/EFTA nationals, may always enter the country, no matter where in the world they are travelling from.

However, those who do enter Switzerland from any of these countries must go into 10-day quarantine upon arrival.

Other way round: exception  

But passengers travelling from a non-high-risk country will be able to enter Switzerland even if they have a stopover in a high-risk country, provided they do not leave the transit area of the airport, the SEM said. 

Here it gave the example of passengers from third countries on the list of exceptions in the COVID-19 Ordinance 3, such as Japan, Australia or New Zealand, who may enter Switzerland even if they have to change flights in a high-risk country on like Turkey, because no direct flights were available. 

Unfortunately, we cannot research and answer individual questions about travel and entry into Switzerland. An official infoline for people travelling to Switzerland can be called at +41 58 464 44 88 (6am–11pm)

A previous version of this article stated that high-risk countries are those from which travellers must quarantine upon arrival in Switzerland. In fact, in this context, high-risk countries are those from which travellers are barred from entry altogether, if they do not hold a Swiss passport, residence permit or EU/EFTA nationality. 

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