Navigation

Coronavirus: the situation in Switzerland

The number of cases is increasing sharply, with the growth largely due to the highly infectious Delta variant affecting unvaccinated people, mainly in the 10-29-year-old age group. (Pic.: Illustration of PCR testing at Triemli City Hospital, Zürich.) © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

After weeks of falling figures, since the end of June the number of new reported coronavirus infections has started rising in Switzerland amid a rapid spread of the more infectious Delta variant.

This content was published on August 3, 2021 - 10:49
External Content
  • The number of cases is increasing sharply, with the growth largely due to the highly infectious Delta variant affecting unvaccinated people, mainly in the 10-29-year-old age group. “We could see another wave in Switzerland, bigger than last autumn,” said Samia Hurst, vice-president of the National Covid-19 Science Task Force on July 20. The good news, say officials, is that hospitalisations remain at a relatively low level.
  • The vaccination rollout continues across the country but has slowed (down to 60,000-70,000 jabs per day). In total, 8.6 million doses were administered between late December and July 20. Around 47.5% of the population have been fully (two jabs) vaccinated. The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine has been cleared for use on 12 to 15-year-olds.
  • Since June 26, anyone from a third country who is fully vaccinated can enter Switzerland for tourism or a visit. Conditions may apply, including testing or quarantine, particularly for people arriving from countries with variants of concern. TravelcheckExternal link offers information about how the rules apply to specific countries.
  • Since June 26, mask-wearing is no longer required outdoors, dance clubs and waterparks are open, and large events of over 10,000 can take place provided people can show a Covid certificate. Since May 31, indoor and outdoor areas of restaurants have been open and working from home has been recommended, but no longer required.
  • forgery-proof Covid-19 certificate was made available on June 7 and is being rolled out across the country to anyone who has been vaccinated, has recovered from or has recently tested negative for coronavirus.
  • More than 10,300 people have died in connection with Covid-19 in Switzerland, which has a population of 8.6 million.
  • The complete updated data on the pandemic can be found in our article Coronavirus: the latest numbers or in the article below.
External Content
External Content

What’s the current situation?

From February to April, infection rates rose in Switzerland with the emergence of new virus variants. The new caseload then stabilised and slowed. New infections at the end fell to below 1,000 for the first time since October 2020. This downward trend continued until the end of June, with average new daily infections below 200. However, since late June, after weeks of falling Covid figures, the number of new reported infections has started to rise amid the rapid spread of the more infectious Delta variant.

The first cantonal vaccinations began in late December 2020. Since January 4, the government has been rolling out its official campaignExternal link, and has set a target of inoculating six million people (or 70% of the population) by summer. Vaccination is optional in Switzerland. The plan involves administering up to 70,000 jabs daily.

As of June, most high-risk people had been vaccinated, and many cantons had opened up vaccinations for the rest of the adult population. The Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH) has also recommended that 12-15-year-olds get vaccinated.

Authorities have ordered some 36 million vaccine doses from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Curevac and Novavax for the population of 8.6 million people. So far, two have been approved and rolled out in the country: Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine has been approved but not ordered by the FOPH. 

Authorities continue to advise all to continue to observe the applicable rules on hygiene and social distancingExternal link.

External Content

Latest measures

On June 23, the government announced a further reopening step starting June 26. As part of this, mask-wearing will no longer be required outside; dance clubs and waterparks can open; and large events of over 10,000 people can take place provided attendees can show a Covid certificate, proving they have received a vaccine, have recently been tested negative, or have recovered from a Covid infection.

This followed a prior announcement on May 26 that allowed restaurants to open indoor and outdoor seating among other easing. Working from home was downgraded from a requirement to a recommendation.

Since February 1, anyone found to be in breach of measures to fight the pandemic, such as failing to wear a mask on public transport (see below) or attending large private gatherings, can be fined from CHF50-CHF200.  

Kai Reusser / swissinfo.ch

Masks and testing

Everyone aged 12 or older travelling on trains, trams, buses, mountain railways, cable cars and ships must wear face masks. Federal Railways conductors can ask anyone not wearing a mask to leave the train; anyone refusing will be fined. Passengers on planes must also mask up.

The government adopted an extended testing strategy along with a contact-tracing concept as it moved to ease social distancing measures. Swiss residents can also download the SwissCovid smartphone app, a contact-tracing system.

Swiss laboratories have been developing tests to pinpoint the Delta variant first found in India. On July 6, the more contagious variant accounted for around 30% of all positive cases, which remained relatively low.   

External Content

Financial consequences

The government has set aside more than CHF65 billion to support the economy, as a large part of economic activity in the country came to a temporary standstill in 2020-2021. CHF40 billion was made available in emergency loans for struggling companies. The government has also presented a plan to offer additional loans totalling up to CHF154 million for start-ups.

The promised economic package provides relief for companies with liquidity problems to obtain transitional bank loans. Companies hit by the crisis can defer payment of social insurance contributions temporarily and without interest. These measures also apply to self-employed persons whose turnover has fallen.

The government also threw a lifeline to businesses threatened by bankruptcy. Firms can delay declaring their financial difficulties to the courts, with smaller companies being given at least a three-month grace period to pay off their debts.

There is also money to cover the imposition of short-time work at firms while other funds have been set aside for hardship loans and to support specific sectors such as event management. Around CHF1.6 billion in such hardship loans had been paid out to almost 20,000 companies by the beginning of April, according to the economics ministry. Partial unemployment claims have increased sharply due to the pandemic and are expected to continue to rise.

The government agreed an additional CHF14.2 billion in financing for unemployment insurance, announcing it would begin easing out extraordinary measures granting unemployment and short-term work benefits to more people. 

Following concerns voiced by the sports sector, the government also allocated CHF500 million for sports leagues, associations and organisations in the country. Among the biggest beneficiaries are the professional football and ice hockey leagues, which could receive as much as CHF350 million to shore up the 2020-2021 season.

Switzerland announced a CHF400 million aid package to developing countries. Half of the funds would go to the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross as an interest-free loan, the foreign ministry said. Funds would also be provided to the International Monetary Fund and other international organisations helping developing countries during the crisis.

Travel to and from Switzerland 

As vaccinations accelerates, Switzerland has eased some travel restrictions. Holders of a Swiss passport or a valid residence permit may enter Switzerland from any country. For others, restrictions may apply.

As of June 26, anyone from a third country who is fully vaccinated (with a vaccine recognised by the Swiss authorities) can enter Switzerland for tourism or a visit. Conditions may apply including testing or quarantine, particularly for people arriving from countries with variants of significant concern. As of July 29, the FOPH lists three such countries: India, Nepal, and the United Kingdom, although authorities say they are working on another revision and plan to remove this latter from the list.

Detailed information can be found on the website of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM)External link.The travelcheckExternal link programme can help visitors determine what rules apply for their country of origin.

Normal entry requirementsExternal link apply to people entering the country from Schengen states, EU member states, certain small European states and certain states outside Europe. 

Swiss travellers planning to go abroad are advised to check entry conditions in the destination country or region. The foreign ministry advises residents to avoid unnecessary international travel. 

Swiss International Air Lines has updated its summer flight schedule and added more destinations due to the improving virus situation. Check the SWISS External linkwebsite.

What’s the situation for Swiss citizens living abroad?

Under the Swiss Abroad Act, External linkSwiss nationals living abroad cannot claim the right to an organised departure from a crisis area. 

All Swiss representations abroad remain accessible to Swiss citizens, and its helpline of the ministry is operationalExternal link

Where can I find further information on the implications of Covid-19?

swissinfo.ch is keeping this story updated regularly with numbers of confirmed cases and deaths, as well as any new significant measures taken by the cantonal and federal authorities.

Unfortunately, we cannot research and answer individual questions. Please check the following official federal websites for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Infoline for people travelling to Switzerland: +41 58 464 44 88 (6am–11pm)

The State Secretariat for MigrationExternal link: updated information on the situation at Swiss borders, with a helpline to answer questions about reasons for the refusal of entry into Switzerland and exceptions.

The Swiss foreign ministryExternal link: information in French, German and Italian about the situation regarding foreign travel and the steps to be followed by Swiss citizens going abroad. 

The Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH)External link: live updates of the national situation, as well as recommendations, public safety measures, and details of upcoming announcements.

The World Health Organization (WHO)External link: information on the origins and nature of Covid-19, as well as the global situation and travel advice.

Johns Hopkins UniversityExternal link: a global map that tracks the number of cases and fatalities by country.

Follow SWI swissinfo.ch hereExternal link, on FacebookExternal link, and on TwitterExternal link for timely updates on the situation in Switzerland.

Comments under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at english@swissinfo.ch.

Share this story

Join the conversation!

With a SWI account, you have the opportunity to contribute on our website.

You can Login or register here.