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Report finds most returnees from Covid-19 risk countries avoid quarantine

Plane landing at Zurich airport
Anyone returning to Switzerland from an "at risk" country who does not go into voluntary quarantine risks a fine of up to CHF10,000 ($10,600). © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Less than half of all people returning to Switzerland from countries that are considered “high risk” for possible coronavirus infections are complying with quarantine rules, according to a news report.

Since July 6 anyone entering Switzerland from a country or area with an increased risk of infection must spend ten days in voluntary quarantine and report their arrival to the relevant cantonal authority within two days. The list of 29 countries can be found hereExternal link.

However, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday that less than half of all returnees were actually doing so.

Its survey of 16 out of 26 cantonal authorities revealed that since July 6, some 6,000 people had flown into Switzerland from at risk countries via Zurich, Geneva and Basel airports. Yet only 2,300 had gone into home quarantine voluntarily.

Canton Zurich recorded 600 people in quarantine, followed by Vaud (290), Bern (220) and Basel (170 cases). Larger cantons such as Aargau, St Gallen and Ticino were unable to provide any statistics, NZZ said.

These total figures do not include people entering the country by car or bus from at risk countries.

NZZ pointed out that, for example, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) currently operates ten flights a week from Zurich to Stockholm, Sweden, seven weekly flights to Belgrade, Serbia, and New York, United States, four to Tel Aviv, Israel, and three to Sao Paolo, Brazil. All of these destinations and countries feature on the Swiss authorities’ Covid-19 “at risk” list.



Anyone not keeping to quarantine may risk a fine of up to CHF10,000 ($10,600).

On July 17, a Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) spokesperson said that the Swiss authorities were starting to conduct unannounced random checks of travellers 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, the FOPH said.

Rudolf Hauri, president of the cantonal doctors’ association, told NZZ am Sonntag he wasn’t surprised by the report and quarantine numbers. But he insisted that “systematic random samples” must be carried out to monitor the quarantine regime.

Travellers returning to Switzerland from at risk countries are generally notified of Swiss quarantine rules during their flight, on board coaches and at border crossings. They have to register with the cantonal authorities on arrival. Airlines and travel companies are also be instructed not to transport sick passengers.

The public health office plans to regularly update its list of the risky regions. Full information about entering Switzerland and quarantine rules can be found hereExternal link (French and German).

Links to further sources on travelling to and staying in Switzerland

Unfortunately, we cannot research and answer individual questions. Please check the following official federal websites for the most accurate and up to date information.

Infoline for people travelling to Switzerland: +41 58 464 44 88 (6am–23pm)

The State Secretariat for MigrationExternal link: updated information on the situation at the Swiss borders, with a helpline to answer questions about refusal of entry into Switzerland and the exceptions. 
The Swiss foreign ministryExternal link: information in French, German and Italian about the situation regarding foreign travel and the steps to be followed by Swiss citizens going abroad  

The Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH)External link: live updates of the national situation, as well as recommendations, public safety measures, and details of upcoming announcements.

Follow SWI here, on FacebookExternal link, and on TwitterExternal link for timely updates on the situation in Switzerland.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR