Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Switzerland ease further COVID-19 related restrictions as of May 11; significant travel and business disruptions remain.

This alert affects Switzerland

This alert began 12 May 2020 11:55 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Entry restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least June 8
  • Impact: Travel restrictions, business disruptions, ban on gatherings

Summary
Authorities in Switzerland began step two of their three-step plan to ease coronavirus (COVID-19)-related restrictions as of May 11. From this date, shops, markets, restaurants, and cultural institutions such as museums and libraries may reopen, provided they can implement strict hygiene and social distancing measures. Additionally, public transport services will resume operation, and educational facilities for children of mandatory school age are permitted to reopen. These are in addition to the businesses that have been permitted to reopen since April 27, including hair salons, dental offices, and hardware stores. A ban on gatherings of more than five people from different households remains in place, and those who can work from home are encouraged to continue to do so.

While temporary entry and exit restrictions for most foreigners remain in place, authorities have opened additional checkpoints and will begin processing a backlog of entry applications from EU/EFTA individuals conducting business in the country. Individuals without a valid reason for travel will continue to be denied permission to enter Switzerland. The restrictions do not apply to Swiss nationals and residents, citizens of Liechtenstein, individuals traveling for work, or to freight traffic. It is unclear how long these measures will remain in effect.

Authorities intend to begin step three of easing restrictions on travel and businesses on June 8, dependent upon the evolution of disease activity in the country. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Reconfirm all travel plans and business appointments. Follow all official directives. Abide by national health and safety measures. Carry proper identification and other necessary travel documents to present at security checks; remain polite and nonconfrontational with border officials. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Plan for processing delays if traveling or routing freight across Swiss borders. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medicines will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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