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COVID-19 TESTS

Most PCR tests no longer free in Switzerland

As the quarantine obligation for contact persons was lifted from Thursday, Swiss government will continue to cover only a limited number of tests.

Only certain people, like elderly care home residents, will continue to have free PCR tests. Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG/ AFP
Only certain people, like elderly care home residents, will continue to have free PCR tests. Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG/ AFP

Before the new rule went into effect Wednesday at midnight, the government paid for PCR screening for contact persons — those who live with or had “regular and close” contact with someone who tested positive. 

Under the previous framework, anyone who had close contact with a Covid-positive person was required to isolate for five days. 

But since these contacts are no longer required to quarantine, their PCR tests are not covered.

However, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), there are a range of exceptions.

The government will continue to pay costs of screening for certain groups of people, including those living in elderly care facilities, hospital patients and healthcare workers, as well as people who are at a particularly high risk, such as those undergoing chemotherapy.

All the others will have to pay for their tests themselves; prices for PCR tests range from 110 to 195 francs, depending on the screening location and rapidity of results.

The Federal Council announced the lifting of contact quarantine on February  2nd, along with the end of the home-working obligation.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Swiss to end quarantine and working from home obligation from Wednesday

Other measures, like the Covid certificate requirement and restrictions on private meetings, could be scrapped from February 17th, provided Switzerland’s  epidemiological situation allows it.

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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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