Do you need a Covid certificate to go to hospital in Switzerland?

After an unvaccinated woman in Bern was turned away from a hospital emergency department, readers have asked us for the rules for hospital admissions.

The University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV)
Do you need a Covid certificate to visit hospital in Switzerland? Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland’s Covid certificate is required to access indoor areas of bars, restaurants, events and other venues. 

Under the framework however essential services are not restricted to certificate holders, which refers to supermarkets and pharmacies. 

READ MORE: What are Switzerland’s Covid certificate rules? 

Admission to hospital for patients is also not restricted to Covid certificate holders, although visitors may in some cases be required to have a certificate. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

What happened in Bern?

In early December, Swiss media outlets broke news of a woman in Bern who had been denied emergency treatment in the Salem Spital as she was unvaccinated. 

The woman and her boyfriend called the hospital after she began bleeding from a wound due to complications from an operation. 

The woman says a hospital staff member told her she would be unable to be treated as she was unvaccinated. 

To check if the refusal was an anomaly, the couple called again, with the man saying he had an injury on his arm which needed to be treated. 

Again, they were told that the man needed to be vaccinated in order to attend. 

The hospital administration apologised, with Director Daniel Lüscher telling Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes “even in a Covid pandemic, we would not allow something like that to apply”. 

What are the rules for hospital admissions? 

Anyone admitted to a hospital in Switzerland is not required to have been vaccinated. 

However, in order to protect those already in the facility along with the medical workers, most people who are admitted need to be tested upon admission. 

Those who test positive will still be treated, however additional care will be taken to ensure the virus does not transmit throughout the facility. 

Lüscher said those with a life-threatening case would not be tested until after an emergency procedure was carried out. 

“A sprained foot is not a vital procedure. So that would require a test or a valid certificate,” Lüscher said.

The rules may differ for people visiting patients. In some cantons and at some hospitals, visitors will be required to provide a Covid certificate. 

This may be the case regardless of next of kin status. 

This article has a guide to some of the larger hospitals in Switzerland, although you are advised to check the rules of the particular hospital you are visiting. 


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Reader question: Which Swiss cantons will keep the Covid certificate in place?

Several Swiss cantons have expressed a desire to keep the Covid certificate in place. What does that mean for the relaxation of Covid measures?

Reader question: Which Swiss cantons will keep the Covid certificate in place?

On Wednesday February 16th, Switzerland announced an imminent relaxation of almost all Covid measures. 

The decision was made after a two-week consultation with Switzerland’s cantons to decide the way forward out of the pandemic. 

The government announced that almost all Covid measures are being relaxed from Thursday, February 17th.

Covid certificates – which show someone has been vaccinated, recovered or in some cases has tested negative – will no longer be required in restaurants, cinemas or at events.

Masks will no longer be required in shops, supermarkets and the workplace, while they will continue to be required in public transport for the meantime. 

More information about the relaxed measures can be found at the following link. 

UPDATE: Switzerland to scrap Covid certificate and most mask rules

What does this mean at a cantonal level? 

While the federal government no longer requires Covid certificates, they can however be required by the cantons, under the new framework.

Swiss media has previously reported that several cantons want to keep the certificate in place.

READ MORE: Swiss cantons divided on ending Covid measures

During the consultation period, several cantons expressed reservations about completely removing the certificate requirement. 

The small, centralised and predominantly German-speaking cantons of central Switzerland — Zug, Schwyz, Uri, Nidwalden, Obwalden and Glarus —  were in the greatest hurry to return to pre-Covid rules.

These cantons argued that a gradual lifting would be too complicated and difficult for the population to understand.

The southwestern canton of Valais preferred this approach as well, but only “as long as the number of cases and hospitalisations continue to decrease by mid-February”. Otherwise, the lifting of the measures should be done in stages.

However, Geneva, Basel-City, Neuchâtel and Jura said it was too early to lift remaining measures.

“It is too risky at the moment, given the still high load in hospitals”, according to Basel-City, which added that “the effects of the first relaxations, such as teleworking and quarantines, are also not yet known”.

Will some cantons still require a Covid certificate?

Berset clarified on Wednesday that while some cantons had argued for this as part of the consultation process (i.e. on a federal level), they would most likely not unilaterally keep the certificate rule in place from February 17th onwards. 

Berset however said he would need to clarify the matter with cantonal representatives and did not rule out some cantons deciding to keep the certificate in place in some instances – for example in relation to nightclubs or large events.

As at Wednesday afternoon, no cantons have indicated they will keep the certificate requirement in place.