On 16 February 2022, the Swiss government announced that masks and Covid certificates will no longer be required to enter shops, restaurants, cultural venues and other public settings and events from Thursday, 17 February 2022. The requirement to wear masks in the workplace and the recommendation to work from home will also end.
The only measures that will remain are the requirements to isolate in the event of a positive test and to wear masks on public transport and in healthcare institutions. These measures will stay in place until the end of March to protect those at high risk, said the Federal Council.
According to the government, the epidemiological situation continues to develop positively. Given the high level of immunity among the population, it is unlikely that the healthcare system will be overburdened despite the continued high level of virus circulation, said the government. The decision was taken after consulting the cantons, social partners and parliamentary committees that have been looking at the situation since May 2021.
From Thursday, 17 February 2022, the following measures will be lifted throughout Switzerland:
- Mask requirements in shops, restaurants, as well as in other public settings (facilities, venues and events)
- Mask requirement in the workplace
- Access restrictions regulated by the Covid certificate (3G, 2G and 2G+-rule) to facilities and venues such as cinemas, theatres and restaurants, as well as events
- The permit requirement for large-scale events
- Restrictions on private gatherings
- Voluntary capacity restrictions in the retail sector and in cablecars and gondolas
- Recommendation to work from home, although employers will be still responsible for protecting staff
However, rules to protect employees at especially high risk will remain in place until the end of March. In addition, those who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 will still be required to isolate. This is to prevent people who are highly infectious from infecting others. The mask requirement on public transport and in healthcare institutions will also remain in place until the end of March 2022.
EU-compatible COVID certificates will still be issued
The lifting of the certificate requirement means that Covid certificates valid only in Switzerland will no longer be issued. These ‘Swiss’ Covid certificates were introduced last autumn to allow further groups of people to access facilities, venues and events subject to a certificate requirement. However, the Swiss authorities will continue to issue Covid certificates recognised by the EU. This is likely to remain important for those wishing to enter other countries. The cantons will, as they requested, still be able to impose a certificate requirement.
The general recommendation for repetitive testing in companies will no longer apply and its funding will end. Repetitive testing will only continue to be funded in certain, narrowly defined areas, such as in healthcare and socio-medical institutions, and in companies involved in maintaining critical infrastructure specified by cantons. For schools, the recommendation for repetitive testing and its funding by the federal government will remain until the end of March as virus circulation among younger age groups remains very high. The cost of individual tests will continue to be covered: antigen tests in all cases, and PCR tests for people with symptoms or after close contact with people who have tested positive.
Changes to entry rules
Health-related measures for persons entering the country are to be lifted. It will no longer be necessary to provide proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test or complete an entry form.
Science Task Force advisory mandate to end on 31 March
The Science Task Force’s advisory mandate will end earlier than scheduled at the end of March at its own request. The current advisory mandate is limited until the end of May. In light of the positive developments, the need for scientific advice is changing. Individual members of the Science Task Force will continue to be available to the Federal Council and the Federal Administration for consultation. Since spring 2020, the body has offered its scientific expertise.