Switzerland removed all travel restrictions on 17 February 2022 and relaxed nearly all rules within its borders, becoming the latest European country to do so. The decision was taken by the Swiss Federal Council and was announced on 16 February. By Manas Sen Gupta
“Switzerland is taking a decisive and important step towards normality,” said Ignazio Cassis, the President of the Swiss Confederation, at a press conference in Bern on 16 February.
The decision was taken based on the COVID-19 situation in the country.
In a press release, the Federal Council said, “Thanks to the high level of immunity among the population, it is unlikely that the healthcare system will be overburdened despite the continued high level of virus circulation.”
The council had given two options to respondents on 2 February on the lifting of measures. According to the council, most of them favoured lifting of the measures with immediate effect while retaining mask requirements in public transport and healthcare institutions.
The government had imposed tight restrictions in October 2021, which had been gradually eased over the next few months till the 16 February decision.
Here’s what travel eases in Switzerland include
No vaccination proof required
The council decided to end all health-related measures for persons entering the country. This means it is not mandatory to provide proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19 or a negative test report or even complete an entry form.
But the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) underlined that the decision by the Federal Council to ease rules at the border “does not change the continuing pandemic-related entry requirements for third-country nationals.”
Wearing masks to continue in some places
People in Switzerland were also granted major relief from most of the restrictions within the country. As per the Federal Council’s decision, it is no longer required to furnish COVID-19 certificates and wear masks when entering shops, restaurants, cultural venues, workplaces and other public settings, and events. The council also brought an end to the work-from-home recommendation.
“Only the requirements to isolate in the event of a positive test and to wear masks on public transport and in healthcare institutions will remain in place until the end of March to protect those at high risk, after which the situation status will return to normal,” the council said in its press release.
Due to the lifting of the COVID-19 certificate requirement, which provided proof of vaccination, negative test or recovery from the virus, the Swiss government will no longer issue certificates valid only in the country. However, those recognised by the EU will continue to be issued for travel abroad.
Other European countries that have eased restrictions include Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the UK.
(Main and Featured images: Leila Azevedo/@leilaazevedo/Unsplash)