On Saturday, Switzerland withdrew the pandemic travel rules announced just a week ago and lifted the obligation for some foreign visitors to quarantine themselves for 10 days upon arrival, a requirement that has wreaked havoc in the country’s crucial tourism industry.
The trend reversal comes after tour operators from countries like the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada reported mass cancellations of people who had booked trips to Switzerland over the Christmas holidays. The Swiss quarantine was ordered in response to concerns about the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has been detected in a handful of cases in the country. according to Reuters.
With the abolition of the mandatory quarantine, however, the Swiss government is tightening other measures. All visitors must now be tested for the corona virus both before entering the country and between four and seven days after arriving in Switzerland. In addition, the Swiss require all visitors from regions that they consider to be particularly risky to be fully vaccinated. At the beginning of this week, Switzerland banned all direct flights from southern Africa, where the variant was first identified.
The Swiss are also extending the obligation to wear face masks to all public indoor events, concert halls and sports facilities and must show a Covid-19 vaccination certificate in order to enter public facilities such as restaurants or museums.
The latest changes to Swiss rules come after more than 60 percent of Swiss voters approved their government’s Covid policy in a referendum last Sunday, including an obligation to present vaccination records. The referendum was called by opponents of lockdown measures, which they see as a violation of personal rights.