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COVID-19 CERTIFICATE

Swiss Covid certificate: Antigen tests now accepted for recovered status

Due to a shortage of PCR tests, those who test positive via antigen tests will be entitled to a Covid certificate.

A positive Covid antigen test seen up close
A positive Covid antigen test seen up close. Antigen tests will now be accepted for those seeking 'recovered' status in the Covid certificate in Switzerland.. Photo by Medakit Ltd on Unsplash

Due to the PCR test shortage in Switzerland, people who test positive on an antigen test will now be entitled to a Swiss Covid certificate (for 270 days). 

Previously, this needed to be a PCR test. 

Self-tests do not apply, i.e. the antigen test must be done at a pharmacy, hospital or other official testing facility. 

Once you receive your official result, this can be loaded into your Covid certificate app, where you will have a valid Covid certificate for 270 days. 

Previously, the duration of validity for a positive test, as well as for full vaccination, was 365 days but has been shortened. 

EXPLAINED: What are the announced changes to Switzerland’s Covid measures

Testing on entry

There have also been changes to the testing rules on entry to the country. 

People arriving in Switzerland will not need to show negative tests on entry from January 22nd onwards, provided they are vaccinated or recently recovered. 

Unvaccinated and unrecovered people will still need to provide a test on entry. 

In effect, this means that the 3G rule applies to all entering Switzerland. 

The entry form rules have also been relaxed, with only those arriving on planes or long-distance buses needing to fill out the form. 

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

PCR testing priority will also change

The shortage of PCR tests in Switzerland has also led to a change in the way these tests are prioritised. 

This is done by a step-by-step prioritisation, as laid out by the Federal Council below.

“Due to the high demand for tests and stretched laboratory capacity, the Federal Office of Public Health will recommend to the cantons a new list to prioritise the handling of PCR tests:

1. People at high risk with symptoms or who have had contact with someone who has tested positive

2. Pool tests in healthcare institutions (hospitals and clinics, retirement and care homes)

3. Pool tests in critical infrastructures (defined by the cantons)

4. Tests of people with symptoms (also possible using rapid antigen tests)

5. Pool tests at schools

6. Pool tests in the workplace

7. Tests for professional or private travel (if PCR test required)

8. Tests upon request (to obtain a test certificate)

In order to further relieve pressure on PCR testing capacities, it will be possible on a temporary basis from 24 January to obtain a Swiss certificate proving recovery from COVID-19 based on a positive rapid antigen test. This will then be valid for 270 days and only in Switzerland.”

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For members

COVID-19 RULES

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

As of February 17th, Switzerland has scrapped the Covid certificate. But what does this mean for travel?

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

Almost all Covid measures are being relaxed from Thursday, February 17th. 

Covid certificates – which show someone has been vaccinated, recovered or in some cases has tested negative – will no longer be required in restaurants, cinemas or at events. 

Under the framework, individual cantons can still require a Covid certificate for particular events or venues, however as yet no cantons have indicated they will do so. 

Reader question: Which Swiss cantons will keep the Covid certificate in place?

While the Covid certificate may no longer be required in Switzerland, the Swiss government has indicated it will keep the infrastructure in place. 

This will be partially due to a desire to stay prepared in the case of a new variant, but it is primarily so that residents of Switzerland will be able to continue to travel. 

Covid certificates will remain valid and will continue to be issued for the purposes of travel abroad and visiting the EU, the government confirmed on Wednesday.

Existing Covid certificates remain valid for international travel and the EU, provided the underlying reason for the certificate is valid (vaccination, recovery or negative test).

In addition to the EU, individual countries within the EU and countries outside of the EU may also require proof of vaccination, etc, in order to enter. 

Many of the reciprocal arrangements which exist between Switzerland and these countries will remain in place, meaning that your Covid certificate app and the inbuilt QR code is the best way to show compliance with these requirements. 

Keep in mind that if you delete your Covid certificate app, the proof of vaccination or recovery contained within will also be deleted.

To get it back, you will need to again scan in the original documents to prove you have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative. 

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

Can private companies or organisations still require people to show a Covid certificate? 

Yes. Organisations and private companies, for instance nursing homes, nightclubs or bars may continue to demand Covid certificates to protect the health of their patients and patrons. 

This can also happen in state institutions – for instance hospitals – provided this is approved of by the cantonal authorities. 

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