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SKIING

UPDATED: What are the Covid rules on Swiss ski slopes this winter?

After a longer than expected wait, the Covid rules for skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports have been released. Here’s what you need to know.

A skier pulling off a funky trick in the Swiss ski field of Laax.
What are the rules for skiing in Switzerland this winter? Photo by Jörg Angeli on Unsplash

The Swiss government agreed with ski resorts on Tuesday afternoon that the Covid certificate will not be required to hit the ski slopes this winter.

The agreement came after a long debate about which protective measures should be introduced in the coming season, Swiss news outlet Blick reported on Tuesday.  

The main question was whether the Covid certificate would be required in chairlifts or on the slopes in general, as it is in Switzerland’s neighbours. 

Somewhat surprisingly, the Covid certificate – which shows if someone has been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative for the virus – will not be required to hit the slopes in Switzerland. 

Canton-by-canton: How visitors can get Switzerland’s Covid certificate

The Covid certificate will not be required to ski or snowboard – nor will it be required to take chairlifts. 

It will however be required in indoor areas bars and restaurants in the ski area, although people eating and drinking on terraces and balconies will not need a valid certificate. 

Masks will be required in chairlifts and on mountain railways and cable cars.

This therefore means the rules in these areas reflect those in public transport. 

As noted above, outdoor areas of bars and restaurants will not require the Covid certificate. 

Similarly, bars and restaurants at airports will not require the Covid certificate (whether indoor or outdoor). 

One area which the government has clarified is in relation to hotel stays. While bars and restaurants of hotels will need to ask for Covid certificates, staying overnight will not require a Covid certificate. 

I am worried about Covid – especially if the certificate is not required. Is there anywhere I might feel a little safer? 

Ski areas in Switzerland are not required to ask for the Covid certificate, but they are however free to put in place a Covid certificate requirement if they deem it appropriate. 

Some, such as the Fideriser Heuberge ski resort in Graubünden, have indicated that they will require a Covid certificate for skiing or taking chairlifts. 

Also, most of Switzerland’s neighbouring countries require a Covid certificate or equivalent to hit the slopes. 

Will these rules be in place throughout the winter?

The government said on Tuesday that it was confident the upcoming season would be safe despite not requiring the Covid certificate. 

Swiss news outlet Watson reported on Wednesday that authorities were reluctant to place further restriction on winter sports activities after the industry suffered a 24 percent drop in revenue last year.

Federal Office of Public Health spokesperson Patrick Mathys said however that safety was the priority and that the government rather than ski resorts would be making the ultimate call. 

When making the announcement, the government was careful to reiterate that it had the final word on whether to change, i.e. tighten, the rules on the ski slopes. 

Rudolf Hauri, President of the Association of Cantonal Doctors, indicated he was uncertain about whether the decision to not require Covid certificates was the right one – and suggested it would be subject to review

“As of now, I can’t tell you whether it’s the right way. That remains to be seen, I think the last word has not yet been said in this case.”

At the same press conference, government spokespeople said more needed to be done to boost the country’s flagging vaccination rate. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Switzerland proposes travellers pay for Covid boosters

Under a new plan put forth by the Swiss government, anyone who needs a booster shot for travel abroad should pay for it out of pocket.

Switzerland proposes travellers pay for Covid boosters

While Covid shots were previously free for everyone in Switzerland, with the Swiss government picking up the tab, the country has been reluctant to issue a recommendation for a second booster.

As The Local reported on Monday, this means that many people’s most recent shot will soon be more than nine months ago, which is the date at which many Covid passes expire. 

READ MORE: What will Switzerland do about the ‘millions’ of expiring Covid certificates?

Although evidence of vaccination is not required domestically in Switzerland any more, it may pose issues in travel. 

Since many countries still require a vaccination certificate for entry, and as the second round of boosters is not yet available in Switzerland, this means that a large number of people may not be able to travel abroad.

Swiss health authorities: Travellers should pay for Covid boosters themselves

According to newest recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), people travelling abroad who need second booster doses must pay for the shots themselves.

As the fourth vaccine dose is currently recommended only for people with a severely weakened immune system, everyone outside of this group will be charged as yet undefined fee.

The proposal was sent to the cantons for consultation until June 1st.

If agreed on, the Federal Council will adjust the Epidemics Ordinance accordingly on June 10th.

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