Switzerland on Saturday dialed back pandemic travel rules announced just a week ago, removing the obligation for some foreign visitors to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, a requirement that created havoc in the country’s crucial tourism industry.
The turnaround comes after travel operators from countries such as Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada reported mass cancellations from people who had booked trips to Switzerland over the Christmas vacation season. The Swiss quarantine was ordered in response to concerns over the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has been detected in a handful of cases in the country, according to Reuters.
In eliminating the compulsory quarantine, however, the Swiss government is tightening other measures. All visitors will now have to be tested for the coronavirus both before entering the country and between four and seven days after their arrival in Switzerland. The Swiss are also requiring all visitors from regions that it considers to be of high risk to be fully vaccinated. Earlier this week, Switzerland banned all direct flights from southern Africa, where the variant was first identified.
The Swiss are also expanding a requirement for wearing face masks to all indoor public events, concert halls and sports venues, and for having to show a Covid-19 vaccination passport to enter public establishments like restaurants or museums.
The latest changes in Switzerland’s rules come after more than 60 percent of Swiss voters last Sunday approved their government’s Covid policies in a referendum, including the requirement to show the vaccination passport. The referendum had been called by opponents of lockdown measures who consider them a violation of individual rights.