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SKIING

Cross-border skiing: What do Swiss residents need to ski in neighbouring countries?

A number of Switzerland’s slopes adjoin those of its neighbours, which have their own rules pertaining to Covid certificates. This is what you should know if you want to ski in those border areas.

Samnaum’s proximity to Austria means it is not possible for the moment to ski over the border . Photo by Andrea Badrutt / Engadin Samnaun Val Müstair
Samnaum’s proximity to Austria means it is not possible for the moment to ski over the border . Photo by Andrea Badrutt / Engadin Samnaun Val Müstair

In the good old days before Covid, skiers could dash down the slopes of a neighbouring country without a care in the world.

They could have breakfast in Switzerland, ski to France and have lunch there, and then ski back to the Swiss side for dinner. This was a common practice in the adjoining Swiss-Italian and Swiss-Austrian ski areas as well.

But the pandemic changed all that.

This year, Covid certificate is not required to ski in Swiss resorts, although if you are arriving from a foreign country, rules are in place to enter Switzerland.

READ MORE: UPDATE: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

While skiing, a certificate is only compulsory to enter inside restaurants and bars, but you don’t need it if you eat in outdoor areas.

However, it will be necessary to juggle various health constraints if you are planning to ski over to a neighbour country.

France

Switzerland and France share a vast ski area called Portes du Soleil, which includes 12 resorts, approximately 650 km of slopes (278 pistes) and more than 200 ski lifts.

One of the attractions of skiing in this region is that you can hit two countries in one day.

But as the health pass is compulsory in ski resorts in France, you will have to take your Covid certificate with you. Swiss Covid certificate is recognised throughout the EU.

These are the latest rules: the pass sanitaire is required to ride on ski lifts, and to enter restaurants, bars etc. Adults over the age of 12 must show proof that they are fully vaccinated (with both doses of a double.dose vaccine), or take a PCR or antigen test every 24 hours. 

Italy

The Zermatt / Breuil-Cervinia / Valtournenche – Matterhorn ski area is located in Switzerland Valais region and Italy’s Valle d’Aosta.

There are 322 km of slopes and 52 lifts in the common domain.

One side of the Matterhorn is Switzerland, the other Italy. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Italy just launched what it calls the “super green pass” — a reinforced version of the Green Pass certificate that proves the holder has been vaccinated against Covid, recovered within the last six months, or tested negative in the last 48 hours.

Essentially, this means that for adults, showing proof of a recent negative test will no longer be enough to ride ski lifts, travel on trains, eat in indoor settings, or drink in bars. A valid super green pass will also be required to buy lift tickets.

Austria

The Ischgl / Samnaun – Silvretta Arena ski area is located in Paznaun-Ischgl on the Austrian side and in the on the Engadin Samnaun Val Müstair side of Switzerland’s Graubünden.  

There are 239 km of slopes and 41 lifts in this border area.

However, the country is currently in lockdown and all ski lifts are closed.

The hope is that restrictions will be lifted on December 13th and ski areas will be allowed to reopen, but nothing is certain at this point.

When it does reopen, it is more than likely that Austria will maintain the “2-G-rule” in place. Essentially, this means only proof of vaccination – or proof of recent recovery from infection – will get you the green pass that you need to be able to ride lifts. Unlike France, getting regular negative tests will not be accepted as a substitute.

READ MORE: ‘2G’: Will Switzerland further tighten the Covid certificate?

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TRAVEL NEWS

UPDATE: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

Headed to Switzerland or returning home from abroad? These are the current entry rules.

UPDATE: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

After almost two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, Switzerland is gradually returning to normal. 

Nowhere is this clearer than in relation to travel. 

Entry from EU/EFTA countries

As of February 17th, Switzerland relaxed all Covid-related entry rules for EU entry.  

“It will no longer be necessary to provide proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test or complete an entry form” the government wrote. 

There are currently no countries on the ‘virus variant of concern’ list, although this may change if another mutation is detected. 

Travel: Six ways to save money while visiting Switzerland

In this case, entry rules may again be reinstated. Previous measures have included outright bans or requiring evidence of vaccination and/or tests, with these sometimes coming into effect at short notice. 

Non-EU/EFTA countries

Travel restrictions remain in place for third-country nationals, according to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

Non-Europeans must present proof of full immunisation administered within the past 270 days with a vaccine recognised in Switzerland: Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, Sinopharm and Covaxin.

Those who have not received one of the approved vaccines can’t enter Switzerland at the moment.

This link explains what rules are in place for various categories of travellers.

Covid certificate no longer required

In addition to relaxing entry rules, the Swiss government removed the Covid certificate requirement. This will no longer need to be shown in restaurants, bars and at events in Switzerland. 

Keep in mind however that other countries may require a Covid certificate. 

Reader question: Do Swiss still need Covid certificate to travel abroad?

It is important to note that this purely relates to Covid-related border measures. 

Other restrictions on entering Switzerland, i.e. the requirement to be granted a visa or due to specific bans placed on individuals and nationalities, will remain in place. 

A comprehensive guide on all of the measures which have been relaxed is laid out at the following link. 

Q&A: Everything you need to know about Switzerland relaxing Covid measures

What measures are still in effect? 

Masks will no longer be required in shops, supermarkets and the workplace, while they will continue to be required in public transport for the meantime. 

Berset said the continuation of this rule was justified as while people can avoid shopping – even supermarket shopping – this was not the case with public transport. 

“You can avoid shopping, for example with online shopping or by adjusting the time you go shopping. This is not the case in public transport,” he told the press on Wednesday. 

The government said this will be maintained in the meantime, but may be relaxed in the future as the situation allows it. 

Another measure which will remain in place is the isolation requirement for those who have tested positive. 

Anyone who has tested positive in Switzerland is required to isolate for five days. 

While Berset said this looks to be relaxed at the end of March, it was still important to stop the spread of the virus. 

“Anyone who has tested positive is very contagious in the short term… The most contagious people can be taken out of circulation in this way.”

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said the isolation measure reflected solidarity in broader society. 

“You also stay at home when you are sick. Society demands that people stay at home when they are sick,” he said

Switzerland has registered more than 2.6 million Covid-19 cases and over 12,500 deaths during the pandemic and currently has a vaccination rate of 70 percent.

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