Swiss ease Covid entry rules for 21 countries

Travellers arrive at Geneva airport Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

Switzerland will relax coronavirus-related entry restrictions for 21 further countries, including Australia and Canada. The changes apply from July 20.

This content was published on July 17, 2020 - 09:41
SRF/SEM/swissinfo.ch/ilj

“Switzerland remains cautious and only relaxes its entry restrictions with restraint,” the Swiss justice ministry wrote in a twitter post on Thursday. This means Montenegro stays on the list of “at risk” countries for which entry and quarantine restrictions still apply, it added.

According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), the new rules from Monday apply to travelers from Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

European Union states Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania, whose citizens have been allowed to enter Switzerland since June 15, have also been removed from the list of risk countries. Also included are Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican.

At-risk countries

Covid-related border controls were lifted at all land and air borders between Switzerland and the Schengen states on June 15.

The Swiss government had already said at the beginning of July that it planned to lift the restrictions for the 21 newest countries, to follow a recommendation by the EU. Switzerland is not part of the EU but has bilateral agreements in place with it.

“All other countries are still considered high risk. Entry restrictions continue to apply to persons entering Switzerland from these countries,” the SEM said on its website. This includes the United States. The list “will be revised as and when required,” it added.

In addition to these entry restrictions, since July 6 anyone entering Switzerland from a country or area with an increased risk of infection must spend ten days in quarantine and report their arrival to the relevant cantonal authority within two days. The list of 29 countries can be found here.

Those not keeping to quarantine, may risk a fine of up to CHF10,000 ($10,600), Swiss officials have said.

Quarantine in action

Meanwhile the first figures from several cantons in Switzerland show that people are generally keeping to the at-risk country quarantine rules, Swiss public television, SRF, has reported.

In cantons Geneva, Vaud, Basel City, Thurgau and Graubünden just under 900 travellers are currently in quarantine. In canton Zurich 600 people had registered.

“This shows that many people are acting responsibly. But the figure also shows that many are not registering with the authorities and are not going into quarantine,” the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP) said.

For example, 16 planes from risk countries landed in Zurich, Geneva and Basel on Thursday, which means a conservative estimate of at least 1,000 people a day from these countries coming into Switzerland, SRF said. Some may have travelled on to other countries.

An OFSP spokesperson said on July 17 that the Swiss authorities is conducting unannounced random checks of travelers returning from risk countries to ensure they are complying with quarantine rules.

The government has started to request passenger lists from airlines – around 20-30 flights a week – and will also demand lists from bus companies from next week. Around one in ten new infection cases comes from people returning from abroad, OFSP said.

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