Following the discovery of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus in the UK and South Africa, the Federal Council today decided to take steps to prevent the further spread of this new variant.
On Sunday, 20 December 2020, all flights to and from these countries to Switzerland were halted from midnight.
Today, the Swiss government announced that all those who have entered Switzerland from these two countries since 14 December 2020 must go into quarantine for 10 days.
The Federal Council has also introduced a general entry ban from today for all foreign nationals seeking to enter Switzerland from the UK and South Africa. This is intended in particular to stop travel from these countries for tourism purposes.
The Federal Council approved amendments to Covid-19 Ordinance 3 prohibiting air travel between Switzerland and the UK and South Africa.
A temporary derogation from the flight ban is being considered for people resident in the UK or South Africa currently staying in Switzerland so that they may return home. This is also being considered for those resident in Switzerland currently staying in those two countries. However, it is imperative that such return journeys do not lead to infections, said the government.
The Federal Council also decided to withdraw freedom of movement privileges from persons resident in the UK until 31 December 2020. Persons from the UK are therefore subject to a general ban on entering Switzerland. Freedom of movement privileges for British citizens were due to expire at the end of the year anyway.
According to Swiss authorities, initial indications are that the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is significantly more transmissible than the existing strain. It is not yet clear to what extent the new variant has spread outside the UK and South Africa. No cases of the new variant have so far been identified in Switzerland.
In order to track down those who have arrived since 14 December 2020, the federal government is in the process of getting flight data from airlines and making it available to the cantons, reported RTS.