This week the authorities released a list of 31 countries where Covid-19 infections are still high. Arrivals from these regions will have to self-isolate for 10 days to prevent a second wave of the pandemic.
The full list is: Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Qatar, Colombia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Moldova, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Serbia, South Africa, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States.
Anyone entering Switzerland from one of these countries must go straight to their own house or other suitable accommodation and stay there continuously for 10 days.
The person must also notify their cantonal authorities that they have returned from an at-risk country. People failing to do so could be liable to a fine of up to 10,000 francs.
What does this new measure mean for people who have been planning to go to one of these countries in the coming weeks?
A US expat, Margaret, told The Local she already has tickets to fly to New York later in July to visit her ageing parents, but now may have to reconsider her plans.
The United States is not on the list of countries whose citizens are authorised to enter Switzerland, but as a dual US / Swiss citizen, Margaret has the right to travel freely both ways.
“I took two weeks off work and was going away for 10 days”, she said.
“Now however, I’d have to extend my vacation time to three weeks to fit in the 10-day quarantine”.
Margaret has not yet decided what to do, “but I am leaning toward cancelling the trip”, she said.
She is not alone.
“People in the international community will certainly ask themselves questions”, before going to their home country, Dominique Fumeaux, the head of the tourism section of the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland told RTS television.
Italian, French, and Portuguese citizens, who make up the largest foreign community in Switzerland will not be impacted by the quarantine ruling, as their respective nations are not on the “high risk” list.
Neither are people from most of the EU / EFTA nations, as well as the UK.
However, people from the Balkans, who also constitute a big portion of Switzerland’s international population, may have to think twice before vacationing in their home countries.
That’s because arrivals from Serbia, North Macedonia, and Kosovo are among those required to self-isolate.
Just like for Margaret, the quarantine obligation may cause problems in terms of vacation time taken off work, especially now as numerous Swiss companies have ceased home working and asked their employees to resume on-site work.
“Legally speaking, an employer has no right to forbid an employee from spending holidays in a country of their choice, or dictate where they can or cannot go”, Christoph Reymond, general director of an Employers Association said in an interview.
However, he added that companies can ask employees not to vacation in high-risk places so as not to extend their vacation time beyond the period they originally intended to take.
As for the quarantine itself, Reymond said it is a positive step for employers.
“We see it as a measure to prevent another total lockdown and a further damage to the economy”, he pointed out.