At its meeting on 11 September, the Federal Council decided on the quarantine rules for persons entering Switzerland from neighbouring countries: only those regions of neighbouring countries where the infection rate is over the limit will be added to the list of countries and areas with an increased rate of infection, not the entire country. Border regions may be exempted from inclusion on the list. In so doing, the Federal Council is responding to the rapid rise in infection numbers, while still taking account of the close interaction between Switzerland and neighbouring regions. The revised ordinance will come into force on 14 September. At the same time, the list of risk areas will be updated.
Since 6 July, anyone entering Switzerland from a country or area with a high risk of infection has been required to go into quarantine for ten days. This Federal Council measure aims to prevent the import of the coronavirus into Switzerland and its spread within the country as far as possible. The Federal Council is now taking a region-based approach to neighbouring countries. Only specific regions of neighbouring countries will be included in the list of countries and areas with an increased risk of infection, in line with the practice in various other countries.
Exemptions for border regions
The border regions of neighbouring countries may be exempted from inclusion on the list. By allowing this exception, the Federal Council is taking account of the close economic, social and cultural exchanges that take place in the border regions. At the same time, the Federal Council is responding to the increasing numbers of infections in Switzerland and in various neighbouring countries, particularly in France.
Since June, the number of new infections in Switzerland has been rising steadily. While 98 cases were reported in the first week of June, at the end of August the figure was 1844, i.e. 18-times higher. In France, the number of cases is increasing even more rapidly and the number of new infections over two weeks in almost all regions of France is considerably higher than the limit value of 60 per 100,000 persons (14-day incidence). In certain Austrian states, a rise in cases in excess of the threshold has also been recorded, as it has in several Swiss cantons.
Taking a regional approach means that persons returning to Switzerland from risk areas will be required to go into quarantine, but not persons returning from regions on the Swiss border. In implementing this measure, the Federal Council is continuing to rely on members of the public to act responsibly. They should avoid travelling to risk areas if at all possible, or spend time in quarantine if they have travelled to these regions. Cross-border commuters are already exempted from the quarantine requirement.
The majority of cantons have expressed their support for this approach. However, some cantons are concerned that the new exemptions for the border regions will lead to increased costs and may lead to lower levels of compliance with the quarantine rules.
Exemptions from the quarantine requirement
Under the new rules, creative artists returning from a cultural event, athletes returning from competitions and persons who have been attending professional conferences will be exempted from the quarantine requirement. However, this exemption only applies if precautionary measures have been planned and taken at the foreign event concerned.
Also exempted from the quarantine requirement are persons who are required to travel without delay to a risk area for professional or medical reasons. The persons concerned must not remain abroad for more than five days, and precautionary measures must be planned and taken.
In addition, the Federal Council has revised the calculation rules for quarantine in the COVID-19 Ordinance on International Passenger Transport Measures. This will allow the cantons to take account of time spent in a country where there is not a high risk of infection before entering Switzerland, and to reduce the length of time spent in quarantine in Switzerland accordingly.
Coronavirus tests: Federal government reduces tariffs
At its meeting, the Federal Council also decided to reduce the tariff for a molecular-biological analysis for Sars-CoV-2 (PCR test) from CHF 95 to CHF 82 and that for a serological analysis (antibody test) from CHF 39 to CHF 25. It has also specified the details of various procedures.
The Federal Council
General Secretariat FDHA
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs