Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Switzerland to implement three-step plan to ease some COVID-19 related restrictive measures from April 27.

This alert affects Switzerland

This alert began 23 Apr 2020 21:26 GMT and is scheduled to expire 16 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Entry restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel restrictions, business disruptions, ban on gatherings

Summary
Authorities in Switzerland will implement a three-step plan to ease some COVID-19 related restrictive measures from April 27. In the first phase of the plan that will come into force from April 27, hospitals will be allowed to resume all medical procedures, while certain businesses such as hair salons, physiotherapists, dental offices, and home and garden improvement stores will also be allowed to reopen. The second phase is expected to commence around May 11, during which schools for children of mandatory-school age, and most shops and markets, will also reopen. The second phase is contingent on no major increase in cases of COVID-19 infections in the country.

Temporary entry and exit restrictions to arrivals via land and air for all foreigners will remain in place; individuals without a valid reason for travel will be denied permission to enter Switzerland. The restrictions will not apply to Swiss nationals and residents, citizens of Liechtenstein, individuals traveling for work, or to freight traffic. Swiss authorities have closed a number of minor land border crossings to funnel travelers to larger crossings where checks can be carried out more effectively; processing delays are likely at open checkpoints. It is unclear how long these measures will remain in effect.

A ban on gatherings of more than five people, and government urging of all individuals to limit all nonessential movement outside the home will also remain in place indefinitely. 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
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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.

Resources
Swiss Federal Office of Public Health: bag.admin.ch

List of closed border crossings (German): www.newsd.admin.ch

World Health Organization (WHO): who.int