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COVID-19

What you need to know about free Covid testing in Switzerland

Some Covid tests are free in Switzerland, with the government in late December agreeing to cover the costs for the first time since early October.

A Covid-19 testing centre
Testing for Covid-19 will again be free in Switzerland. Photo: SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

With the Covid situation worsening in Switzerland, the Swiss government has tightened Covid measures across the country. 

As part of the raft of new measures and rules announced on December 17th, the Swiss government again pledged to cover the costs for Covid tests, making testing now free in most instances. 

Testing was free throughout much of the summer, however the government stopped covering the costs of the tests from early October in order to encourage people to get vaccinated. 

What tests are now covered? 

As of Saturday, December 18th, individual antigen and pooled PCR tests are free in Switzerland. 

The costs of PCR tests and antibody tests will not be covered by the government.

Depending on the provider, PCR tests cost approximately CHF 110 (€100), or CHF 195 (€175) for rapid PCR tests.

READ MORE: How to get Switzerland’s Covid certificate with an antibody test

Self-tests – otherwise known as at-home tests which were available in pharmacies – are also not covered by the regulation and are therefore not free.  

PCR tests will however be free if a close contact has tested positive, if you are part of a positive pooled PCR test or if you have symptoms of the virus. 

*A positive test pool is where a group of people have their samples pooled and are tested with one PCR test. This is most common in the case of children and class groups. 

What do I need a test for? 

With negative tests now no longer valid for the Covid certificate, one major question is why the tests are now again being made free. 

While tests will no longer allow you to obtain a Covid certificate to visit a bar, restaurant or event, they are valid in terms of travel and for the new 2G-Plus rule. 

Unvaccinated (and non-recovered) people entering Switzerland must show a test on arrival and again between four and seven days after arriving. This can be antigen or PCR. 

The new 2G-Plus rule requires people who are already vaccinated or recovered from the virus to also get a test in certain situations. 

This includes for example bars, clubs and discos, as well as other events. 

People who have had a booster shot in the past four months do not need to get a test, i.e. they will be deemed already 2G-Plus compliant. 

Restaurants can also elect to impose the 2G-Plus rule if they want to get rid of the requirement to have allocated seating and to have masks. 

Why is testing free again? 

Switzerland’s Covid situation has worsened in recent weeks, with higher case rates than ever and fuller ICUs than ever. 

Testing allows infected people to be identified and isolate, thereby slowing the spread of the virus. 

While those who have been vaccinated will have a less severe course of the symptoms, they can still catch and spread the virus in some cases. 

One of the major reasons the government decided to stop covering the costs of tests back in October was in order to encourage vaccination. 

As a result of the October change, people who were unvaccinated but were getting tested regularly in order to have a Covid certificate would need to pay the costs of the tests themselves. 

Under the rules in effect as at December 18th, people can no longer get a negative test for the Covid certificate, so the incentive to vaccinate is still there. 

Another major reason for the change was the cost of testing, which was estimated at four million francs per day. 

Switzerland ends free Covid testing: Everything you need to know

As yet, it is unclear as to what the daily costs of covering the tests will now be, given that it is expected fewer people will get tested as the tests no longer confer a Covid certificate. 

Where can I get tested? 

Fortunately, testing is common place in cities, towns and villages throughout Switzerland, while most airports and major transport hubs also have testing facilities.

Pharmacies, general practitioners and hospitals have testing facilities, while private facilities also exist across the country.

Member comments

  1. Thanks for the article – it would be very helpful to know if home self-tests for antigen are free again from Pharmacies, as they were in the summer/

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For members

TRAVEL NEWS

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain’s Basel to Berlin line

In early May, German transport provider Flixtrain announced it would begin running services from Basel to Berlin (and back) from June. Here’s what you need to know.

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain's Basel to Berlin line

German transport provider Flixtrain has announced it will launch in Switzerland from June 23rd. The low-cost provider is offering 10 franc (10 euro) tickets from Basel to Berlin, among other cheap fares.

The low-cost company, which has been establishing itself Deutsche Bahn’s major competitor Germany over the past few years, runs long distance bus and train services. 

When will the services run?

The lines to and from Basel run from Thursday to Monday, with one connection per day in either direction. 

It will take 8 hours and 45 minutes from Basel Badischer Bahnhof to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. 

A trip with the German ICE will instead take just over 7 hours. 

The new line is part of an expansion of services which is set to include around 70 destinations in Germany. 

OK but will it really cost CHF10?

The price of the ticket grabbed headlines, with Flixtrain saying in its press conference that the almost-nine-hour trip would only cost CHF10 (10 euro). 

Flixtrain spokesperson Sebastian Meyer told Swiss news outlet Watson that tickets would start at CHF10, but more expensive tickets would be available when the CHF10 offerings were sold out. 

“If the cheapest ticket contingent is sold out, the next higher one takes effect. In this way, we can always offer our passengers cheap tickets. Affordable prices are still possible due to the corresponding utilisation of the individual trips.”

In order to get the cheapest possible fare, travellers are advised to book early. 

REVEALED: How to find cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Tickets between Basel and Berlin can cost as high as CHF150 or 160 euros from Switzerland’s SBB or Germany’s Deutsche Bahn respectively, although booking in advance can bring the price down to as low as CHF30. 

Where will the train to (and from) Berlin stop?

In either direction, the train will stop at: Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, Offenburg, Freiburg, Wiesloch, Bad Hersfeld and Weil am Rhein. 

What else is different about Flixtrain?

Other than being bright lime green, Flixtrains allow you to take your bicycle with you, which is not allowed on most ICE long-distance trains in Germany. 

Are there any other destinations within Switzerland? 

As yet, Basel will be the only Swiss destination. The other two new routes are Stuttgart to Hamburg and Berlin to Weisbaden. 

In addition to the 10 franc (10 euro) ticket from Basel to Berlin, other journeys within Germany will start at 5 francs (5 euros). 

More information is available from Flixtrain at the following link. 

The expanded routes can be seen in the following image. 

A look at Flixtrain’s route network in 2022. Map: Flixtrain

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