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Monday, August 15, 2022

Swiss drop pre-arrival COVID-19 tests for vaccinated

A town in Switzerland | INQUIRER.net stock photo

GENEVA — Switzerland decided Wednesday to drop pre-arrival Covid-19 tests for vaccinated or recovered people coming into the country, in a move welcomed by the tourist industry.

From Saturday, only unvaccinated people who have not recovered from Covid will need to present a negative test upon arrival in Switzerland.

The Swiss Tourism Federation called the change in entry rules a “relief” for the industry, with the cost of tests having put the Alpine nation at a disadvantage compared to other major winter sports holiday destinations.

“A strict entry regime makes little sense at present, given that the Omicron virus variant has a much higher incidence in Switzerland” than in the main countries where its ski tourists come from.

Switzerland is battling a fifth wave of the pandemic but Health Minister Alain Berset refused to speculate on whether the peak had passed.

“We hope so, but we don’t know so. We have to remain modest and careful,” he said.

The requirement to work from home was extended until the end of February, while restrictions for indoor settings will apply until the end of March.

And from February 1, the validity of vaccination certificates will be reduced from 12 to nine months, in line with surrounding EU nations.

Switzerland, population 8.6 million, has registered more than 12,000 deaths in the pandemic and nearly 1.8 million cases.

Case rates in Switzerland have been higher than in the EU, and another 38,000 new infections were announced Wednesday.

Sixty-eight percent of the Swiss population are double-vaccinated and 35 percent have had a booster dose.

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