COVID-19 - Travelling and quarantine

1. Overview

Check whether you need to declare yourself to the authorities

Are you indeed required to undergo a quarantine? You can fill in this questionnaire that will guide you.

 

Returning from a risk area

  • It is recommended that you do not travel to areas listed in the list of states and zones at risk of infection.
  • However, if you are returning from a risk area, it is mandatory to stay at home for 10 days and to announce your return from a risk area within 2 days of your return.
  • Exemptions from quarantine are specified in the federal ordinance.
  • Exemptions are also provided for. They are granted only on the basis of absolute necessity.
  • Entry restrictions for third-party State nationals deemed to be at risk are always in effect. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is competent in this matter.
 

Further information

Hotline of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) 
+41 58 464 44 88
Every day from 6am to 11pm

FOPH document:  Mandatory quarantine for persons arriving in Switzerland

2. Informing your canton about your return from a high-risk area

Check whether you need to declare yourself to the authorities

Are you indeed required to undergo a quarantine? You can fill in this questionnaire that will guide you.

If you are certain that you need to inform the cantonal authorities about your return from a high-risk area, you may do so, within 2 days of your return, by filling in this electronic form.

 

FAQ

I'm coming back from a high-risk area. What must I do?

  1. Go home immediately and stay there for 10 days, following the quarantine instructions.
  2. Declare your arrival within two days to the cantonal doctor's office using the electronic form "Inbound trip declaration from a risk area"
  3. Follow the recommendations and explanations that will be given to you the day after you will have submitted the electronic form. An official quarantine decision will be sent to you.

 

I'm returning from a high-risk area and my child has to go back to school, what should I do?

The return quarantine also applies to children. Your child will be forced to miss school until the end of his/her quarantine. A negative test, carried out as of the 7th day, then allows him/her to go back to school.

 

 

Declaration of return from a country at risk

How long do I have to declare my return?

48 hours. However, your quarantine begins as soon as you enter Swiss territory.

 

What do I risk if I don't declare myself?

Quarantine compliance will be monitored. In case of doubt on behalf of the cantonal doctor's office, or if a case is reported, the police will be summoned to carry out a check. Fines of up to CHF 10,000.- may be issued.

 

How is the length of a quarantine period, after returning from a high-risk area, determined?

The length of the quarantine is calculated from the date of departure from the risk zone, plus 10 days.
The units that constitute the quarantine days are counted in days and not in 24-hour periods, which means that a quarantine always ends on the last day of quarantine at midnight.

 

3. Mandatory quarantine

Mandatory quarantine

Since 6 July 2020, and by decision of the Federal Council, quarantine is mandatory for anyone entering Switzerland and coming from a high-risk area, for a period of 10 days prior to entry into Switzerland. 

  • Travellers returning from an area considered to be at risk are required to notify the cantonal health authority.
  • Quarantine begins on the date of return to Switzerland and lasts 10 days.
  • A negative test (PCR test or rapid antigenic test for SARS-CoV-2) carried out as of the 7th day of the quarantine, at the patient's charge, allows the quarantine to be lifted. However, the mask must be worn outside the home until the actual expiry of the quarantine - i.e. until the 10th day - and a distance of 1.5 metres from other people must be maintained.
In order to have the quarantine lifted, the negative result must be sent to the Cantonal Doctor's office.

The list of states and territories concerned can be found in the annex to the Ordinance on measures to combat the Coronavirus in International Passenger Transport, which is updated regularly and which also indicates the exemptions to this measure.

Exemptions are only granted on the basis of absolute necessity.

When returning from a high-risk area, people with symptoms should isolate themselves and have themselves tested. They can only benefit from an exemption/derogation if their test result is negative.

These measures apply to all persons residing on the territory of the canton of Geneva.

Persons subject to mandatory quarantine

It is recommended that you do not travel to the states/areas at risk that are listed. However, if you are returning from one of these regions, then you should :

  • Go straight home and stay there for 10 days, following the quarantine instructions.
  • Declare your arrival within two days to the cantonal doctor's office using this electronic form.
  • Follow the recommendations and explanations that will be given to you the day after you will have submitted the electronic form. An official quarantine decision will be sent to you.

Persons returning from a region not considered to be at risk do not have to take any special measures. However, you should follow the health recommendations in force.

 

For further information

New coronavirus: Information for travellers  (FOPH)

New coronavirus: Mandatory quarantine for persons arriving in Switzerland (FOPH)

Federal ordinance and list of the states and areas with an increased risk of infection (FOPH)

Instructions on quarantine (FOPH)

 

FAQ - Quarantine

I have 48 hours to announce my return. Do I also have 48 hours to start my quarantine?

No, your quarantine begins as soon as you enter Swiss territory.

 

May I request an exemption from quarantine?

There is no exemption provided. Except, within the law, in very rare and exceptional cases.

 

The country from which I am returning was taken off the FOPH list after my return. Can I interrupt my quarantine?

No. The country in question was placed on the list of countries at risk because its epidemiological data required it. It was precisely during the period of time when you were there that you were exposed. Therefore, you must comply with the quarantine decision until the scheduled end date. A derogation is not granted in this case.

 

The country I've just returned from is soon to be taken off the FOPH's list. Can I interrupt my quarantine?

No. The country in question was placed on the list of countries at risk because its epidemiological data required it. It was precisely during the period of time when you were there that you were exposed. Therefore, you must comply with the quarantine decision until the scheduled end date. A derogation is not granted in this case.

 

For new countries on the FOPH list, when does the quarantine begin?

The quarantaine is prescribed as of the start date announced by the FOPH.

 

If I undertake a COVID-19 test when I return from a country at risk, am I exempt from quarantine?

If the test (PCR test or rapid antigenic test for SARS-CoV-2) has been carried out at the earliest on the 7th day of the quarantine, at the applicant's own expense, and the test result is negative, the quarantine will be lifted.

 

Can I go for a medical check-up if I'm quarantined?

If the medical consultation is urgent and cannot be postponed, you can go to the doctor wearing a mask and avoiding public transport.

 

Will I be exempt from quarantine if I visit a sick relative in a country at risk?

The sanitary risk on return is the same. A quarantine is therefore necessary regardless of the reason for the visit to the risk area.

 

Am I exempt from quarantine if I've already had COVID-19?

No. Quarantine still applies. 

There is only one case in which it can be postponed: you have had the disease less than three months ago and you have taken a smear test in Switzerland to prove it. Serological results are not taken into consideration.

 

If visiting family members or friends reside in countries at risk, are they also quarantined?

Yes, the same quarantine period is imposed and hotel costs may be at the expense of visitors.

 

My child is in quarantine but has tested negative, can he/she go to school?

If the test (PCR test or rapid antigenic test for SARS-CoV-2) has been carried out at the earliest on the 7th day of the quarantine,  and the result is negative, the quarantine will be lifted and your child can go back to school.

 

 

Quarantine and work

Do I receive a decision from the cantonal doctor for the duration of my quarantine?

Persons in quarantine returning from a country at risk receive a quarantine decision, but this document does not entitle them to salary compensation unless the country was declared at risk during their stay in that country.

Persons in quarantine who develop COVID-19, receive a decision from the cantonal physician that entitles them to receive salary compensation during the isolation period.

 

Is my salary paid when I am in quarantine?

You should first check whether there is an obligation in your employment contract for your employer to continue to pay your salary. The concrete assessment is established between you and your employer. In the event of a dispute, a court will probably have to decide.

There is an obligation to continue to pay wages in 2 specific cases:

  • If your employer has sent you to work in a state or territory with a high risk of infection and you must quarantine yourself upon your return.
  • If you can continue to telework despite your quarantine.

If you cannot work because of the quarantine imposed on travellers entering Switzerland and you do not receive a salary from your employer, the following principles apply :

  • You are entitled to a COVID-19 loss of earnings allowance if you are forced into quarantine through no fault of your own. This means that, at the time of departure, your destination was not on the list of states and areas at high risk of infection and you could not have known, following an official announcement, that your destination would be added to this list during your trip.
  • You are not entitled to compensation if, at the time of departure, the country was already on the list of states and areas at high risk of infection.

 

My employer requires a test before accepting my return to work; what must I do?

A return-to-work test makes no sense from a medical point of view. It does not guarantee that there is no contagiousness. An employer has no right to demand such a document.

 

I live in France, I work in Switzerland and I just returned from a holiday in a risk area, what should I do?

It is useless to declare yourself on Geneva territory because it is not legally possible to order a quarantine for a person not residing on Swiss territory. We therefore recommend that you inform your employer in order to decide with him/her how to organise the 10 days following your return. In general, we recommend that you carry out your tasks by teleworking whenever possible.

 

As an employer, can I request a certificate of non-contagiousness when an employee returns?

No, only the date of the end of quarantine or the end of isolation as stated in the decision of the cantonal authority counts. A certificate of non-contagiousness, even a medical one, does not guarantee that there is no contagion. As an employer, it is not legal to request such a document.

 

As an employer, I have many employees who are border workers returning from a risk area, what should I do?

Self-declaration only applies to persons residing in Geneva. It is not legally possible to order a quarantine for a person not residing on Swiss territory. Currently in Geneva, we recommend that you find an alternative to face-to-face work on Geneva territory. Indeed, if the employee were to contaminate the rest of your teams, this would imply a quarantine of a large part of your staff. This risk must be taken into consideration among the solutions you are considering. Teleworking should be reinforced whenever possible in such cases. 

 

 

 

4. Exemption from quarantine

 
If you meet the conditions listed below, there is no application to submit. An ex officio exemption applies. Apart from these conditions, you are subject to mandatory quarantine.
 
Entry restrictions for high-risk countries are still applicable. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is responsible for this matter.
 
 

Persons in transit

Are exempted from compulsory quarantine all persons who :

  • have stayed in a State or zone with a high-risk of infection as a transit passenger for less than 24 hours.
    Going to a high-risk area and returning within 24 hours is not considered transit. 
  • only enter Switzerland for the purpose of travelling through it, with the intention and possibility of continuing their journey directly to another country.

 

Transport activities

Are exempted from compulsory quarantine all persons who, professionally, or in the course of their professionnal occupation in in the field of transport (rail, bus, boat or air) carry travellers across the border and who, for this reason, might have had to stay in a State or zone with a high risk of infection.

 

Activities of absolute necessity

Persons whose activity is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the following fields are exempt from compulsory quarantine:

  • the capacity of the health system
  • security and public order
  • the functioning of international institutions and organisations
  • Switzerland's diplomatic and consular relations

An employer must check and certify that an activity is absolutely necessary. A person who is self-employed will himself or herself certify that his or her activity is absolutely necessary.

Examples of activities

  • Police officers, doctors and nurses when they are essential to the functioning of a health system.
  • Private security guards do not have an absolutely compelling activity, unless they carry out delegated sovereign tasks, such as escorting detainees, surveying public buildings, policing public events.

In all cases, teleworking solutions are to be favoured, as far as possible, during the 10 days following entry into Switzerland.

 

Other compelling professional activities and trips 

Persons who for professional reasons1 enter Switzerland2 or return to Switzerland after coming back from a risk area are exempt from quarantine.

1The compelling nature of the professional motive does not relate to the type of activity carried out, but to the fact that it is imperative that this person carry it out personally, on the spot and without the possibility of postponement, which is the case if he/she has an employment contract, a promise of employment or any other contract requiring a service of this type.

2This applies in particular to holders of a G permit and persons of Swiss nationality residing in France.

 

Medical reasons and trips

Persons who are exempt from quarantine for compelling medical reasons.

1 Compelling medical reasons exclude comfort or purely aesthetic operations, which may be postponed.

 

Returning after a sporting, cultural or professional event

Exemption from compulsory quarantine is granted to persons who return to Switzerland after having taken part, generally in a professional capacity, in an event (sports event in a professional context, cultural event, professional congress) provided that their participation and trip took place in accordance with a specific protection plan.

Persons taking part in amateur competitions are, in general, subject to quarantine.

 

Compliance with preventive measures

Persons returning from a high-risk area and who are exempt from quarantine, or who are granted an exemption for the authorised activity in strict compliance with hygiene and behaviour measures (interpersonal distance or mask), must not engage in other leisure activities, particularly in public areas with high public attendance, and must not multiply contact with friends or other relatives.

If symptoms occur (sore throat, cough - especially dry), shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, sudden loss of smell and/or taste, muscle aches, headaches, general feeling of tiredness, cold, gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, skin rashes), people should isolate themselves and get tested.

5. Request for derogation

Persons who do not meet the exemption criteria and wish to benefit from an derogation can apply to derogation.covid@etat.ge.ch.

Each individual situation is examined on a case-by-case basis. The derogation may be refused or concessions may be granted.

Applications are processed within a maximum of 4 days.

A request must be submitted personally or, in the case of a minor person, by his/her legal guardian.

 

Examples of derogations

A derogation is available for persons attending the funeral of a family member or accompanying a family member for urgent medical treatment lasting more than 5 days.

There is no exemption for students, pupils who have taken a language course nor for people who have resided in isolated places.

Entry restrictions for high-risk countries are still applicable. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is responsible for this matter.

 

See also

Art. 4 of the Ordinance on Measures to Combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in International Passenger Transport