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COVID-19 RULES

Switzerland decides against further Covid measures

Switzerland on Wednesday decided against putting in place tighter Covid measures, although officials said “stricter measures (including closings) are ready” if the situation continues to deteriorate.

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset announces a change in the country's Covid-19 health pass rules. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset announces a change in the country's Covid-19 health pass rules. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

In a call with cantonal health directors on Wednesday, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said further Covid measures would not be put in place for now but warned the situation remains serious. 

Skyrocketing infection rates led to increasing pressure on the federal government to take additional steps to curb the spread of the virus.

On Monday, the government announced new measures would be considered on the basis of data relating to the Omicron variant’s spread around the country. 

Berset on Wednesday said while new measures would not be implemented, they had been drafted and could be implemented in future. 

On Wednesday, Switzerland recorded 30,000 new infections. 

This is the first time the 30,000 mark has been breached. On Tuesday, more than 20,000 were recorded – which itself was the first time Switzerland had crossed the 20,000 mark. 

Berset said the crucial metric however was not how many people were contracting the virus, but how many of those infected fall seriously ill. 

“The decisive factor is how many Omikron infected people need intensive care” Berset said.  

Berset warned the public to get vaccinated, saying further measures had been prepared and may be implemented soon. 

“Stricter measures (including closings) are ready. Should they be necessary, the Federal Council can decide quickly,” Berset said on Twitter. 

Berset called on those who had not yet been vaccinated or who have not received a booster shot to get a jab. 

“We are following very closely the effects of the end of the holiday period, the start of school and how the pressure on the hospitals – hospitalisations and ICU occupancy – is developing” Berset said. 

As The Local reported on Tuesday, while infection rates are skyrocketing, hospital admissions have been comparatively stable. 

While the situation remains serious – particularly in the ICUs in some cantons – overall hospitalisations have not spiked to the same degree as new infections. 

READ MORE: Why hospitalisations in Switzerland are not increasing despite soaring infections

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TRAVEL NEWS

Reader question: Do flights to and from Switzerland require face masks?

Face masks to curb the spread of Covid have been largely phased out in Switzerland, although they are still required on some international flights. Here’s what you need to know.

Reader question: Do flights to and from Switzerland require face masks?

Just over two years after the pandemic, the requirement to wear a Covid mask disappeared in Switzerland, almost as quickly as it was put in place. 

Masks had been compulsory in indoor public spaces in Switzerland since October 29th, 2020 until February 17th of this year, when the mask requirement was lifted except for public transport and health establishments.

And from April 1st, masks don’t have to be worn in any publicly-accessible places.

Travel

As travellers would be aware, Switzerland’s relaxed attitude to masks and other Covid measures is not replicated everywhere, with masks required on trains and on planes heading outside of Switzerland despite the April 1st change. 

Rules were however further relaxed at a European level in May. 

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

READ MORE: Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

While Switzerland is not an EU member, it is surrounded by EU countries and frequently takes part in EU alliances. 

What is the current rule as at end of May, 2022? 

At present, while rules have been relaxed at a European level, countries are free to put them in place domestically where they see fit. 

In that case, the rules of the destination country must be followed on flights. 

As Switzerland does not require masks, Swiss-bound flights will not have a mask mandate in place. 

Flying outward from Switzerland however may be different, depending on the rules in place in your destination country. 

On May 24th, Swiss news outlet Blick reported that Swiss airlines had not been asking passengers to wear masks on flights to Germany, despite Germany having a mask mandate in place. 

The German Infection Protection Act requires masks on all flights that land in Germany and is in place until September 23rd. 

Flights to France do not require masks, although flights to common tourist destinations like Spain and Greece will have mask rules in place. 

Italy, another popular holiday destination, requires FFP2 masks to be worn until June 15th at the earliest. 

Individual airlines also often have rules for masks in place. While Ryan Air has dropped most mask rules (other than those put in place by national regulatory systems), Easy Jet still requires masks on most journeys. 

Occasionally, individual airports can also have certain rules in place, so be sure to prepare for all possibilities and contact your airline for greater clarity.  

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