Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Switzerland lifts ban on travelers from several countries July 20 due to decreasing COVID-19 activity; most non-EU foreigners remain banned.

  • Alert Begins: 20 Jul 2020 02:10 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 03 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions remain

Authorities in Switzerland have lifted a ban on travelers from several countries July 20 due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity declining in those locations. Nationals of Algeria, Andorra, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Ireland, Japan, Morocco, Monaco, New Zealand, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and the Vatican City may now enter the country. Travelers from these countries may still be subject to quarantine if they have traveled to a high-risk destination within 14 days of entering Switzerland.

Swiss authorities maintain a list of high-risk countries from which travelers must undergo a mandatory 10-day self-quarantine from July 6. Officials will update the list regularly; countries included on the initial list are Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Kosovo, Kuwait, Moldova, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Serbia, South Africa, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States. Previously, authorities in Switzerland reopened all ports of entry to nationals and permanent residents of the EU, UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway; travelers from these destinations can visit Switzerland without restriction.

As of June 22, authorities have permitted most activities and businesses to resume, provided social distancing and hygiene requirements are implemented. Authorities no longer recommend work from home, and social distancing measures have been reduced to 1.5 meters (5 feet). Outdoor gatherings are no longer limited to 30 people; demonstrations are permitted to resume, though participants must wear face coverings. Face coverings are mandatory on public transport from July 6.

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 easing of restrictions by the government corresponds with similar actions undertaken by other regional governments in response to decreased infection rates 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.

As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

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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