A question on Swiss/Zurich Transit & Quarantine from Increased Risk areas

Old Aug 13, 20, 7:59 am
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A question on Swiss/Zurich Transit & Quarantine from Increased Risk areas

I am finding it hard to talk to a Swiss representative over the status of transit passengers travelling from Spain (now designated a high risk area) via Zurich to Hong Kong.

I have a booked flights with a 5 hour layover in the second week of September, and will have been in Spain over the 24 hour period set out as below.

The Swiss government website seems pretty clear to me:

‘The mandatory quarantine requirement does not apply to transit passengers who have spent less than 24 hours in a country or area with an increased risk of infection. Further exceptions are set down in Article 4 of the Covid-19 Ordinance on International Passenger Transport Measures.’

www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/empfehlungen-fuer-reisende/quarantaene-einreisende.html

However I am being told by the Swiss representative this will not affect my flight.

So my question, and I appreciate any pointers in the right direction, is whether anyone has experienced issues regarding transit and quarantine under the transit rules regarding mandatory quarantine.

Thanks and please stay safe

Nicc
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Old Aug 13, 20, 9:58 am
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As always, check TIMATIC for your specific situation, e.g. citizenship, residency, recent travel history & transit. That is what the LX agent will pull up on her monitor when you check in, so it is what you should run for your specific situation.

TIMATIC also provides important arrival information for HKG, including quarantine and pre-arrival COVID-19 testing.
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Old Aug 13, 20, 10:12 am
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The Swiss quarantine requirements only apply to people entering and staying in Switzerland. As a transit passenger, you are not affected.
I assume your onward journey to HKG is on the same ticket. In this case, you must show documentation allowing you to enter HKG at check-in in Spain.
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Old Aug 13, 20, 12:05 pm
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Thank you for the responses, as I am a permanent HKID holder, other than 14 days mandatory quarantine at home, there is no issue that end.

The problem I have is the wording of the Swiss government website which suggests that if having stayed in a high risk area for longer than the previous 24 hours then there is mandatory quarantine of 10 days for those in transit.

TIMATIC is good but my CX friends tell me that sometimes the little details can on occasion be found wanting, especially when there are sudden changes which are occuring often at the moment, or there is nuance in the wording.

As a case of where details can have an affect is the example of CX only accepting the term 'Nucleic Acid Test' when US clinics just stated 'Nucleic Test' and denied boarding to a lot of passengers at LAX.
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Old Aug 13, 20, 2:59 pm
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Originally Posted by Nicc HK View Post
The problem I have is the wording of the Swiss government website which suggests that if having stayed in a high risk area for longer than the previous 24 hours then there is mandatory quarantine of 10 days for those in transit.
You misunderstand the wording.

All Swiss quarantine requirements only apply to those people entering / arriving in Switzerland.

Who must go into quarantine?

People who have spent time in a country or area with an increased risk of infection and then enter Switzerland must go into quarantine.
You do not enter Switzerland. You transit to HKG.

You are refering to this wording:
The mandatory quarantine requirement does not apply to transit passengers who have spent less than 24 hours in a country or area with an increased risk of infection.
. What this means is: If you transit from Portugal via Spain to Switzerand (destination), and you have not spent more than 24h in Spain, then you do not need to quarantine.
It is more clear in the actual legal act:
The following persons are exempted from the quarantine requirement under Article 2: (...) f. persons who enter Switzerland for the purpose of transiting the country and who intend and are able to travel on directly to another country.
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Old Aug 14, 20, 7:31 pm
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Originally Posted by airoli View Post
You misunderstand the wording.

All Swiss quarantine requirements only apply to those people entering / arriving in Switzerland. You do not enter Switzerland. You transit to HKG.

You are refering to this wording:. What this means is: If you transit from Portugal via Spain to Switzerand (destination), and you have not spent more than 24h in Spain, then you do not need to quarantine.
It is more clear in the actual legal act:
I can see what you are saying but I will have spent more than 24 hours in Spain.

As Switzerland is in the Schengen area then technically I would be entering Switzerland as transit then departing.
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Old Aug 15, 20, 12:32 am
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I am not sure how I can be more clear:
Unless you plan to stay in Switzerland for 10 days, you do not need to quarantine in Switzerland for 10 days.
You do an airside transfer to HKG, which is totally fine. But even if you went landside and got on a train to Germany, you'd still be fine from a Swiss regulations point of view.
As Switzerland is in the Schengen area then technically I would be entering Switzerland as transit then departing.
Which is explicitly permitted in the act I linked to.
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Old Aug 18, 20, 7:23 am
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Actually, the OPs question is pretty good!

This is NOT a Non-Schengen to Non-Schengen transfer, where it would be all clear (not entering Schengen/Switzerland, staying "clean" airside) but a Schengen to Non-Schengen transfer.

OP will be allowed to fly, and from what I can see, since he technically arrives within Switzerland, they won't force him to head immediately to the Non-Schengen area.

So he COULD "enter" Switzerland (considering he already arrives as Schengen) and spend some time in Switzerland before moving to his Non-Schengen flight, without actually having to quarantine.

Obviously, one would suggest to him to keep his transfer as quick as possible, immediately heading through passport control into Non-Schengen Dock E area, and wait for his flight there, but he won't be stopped from spending some time landside first and stocking up chocolate at Migros or anywhere of his choicing.
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Old Aug 18, 20, 8:40 pm
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Originally Posted by YuropFlyer View Post
Actually, the OPs question is pretty good! This is NOT a Non-Schengen to Non-Schengen transfer, where it would be all clear (not entering Schengen/Switzerland, staying "clean" airside) but a Schengen to Non-Schengen transfer.
Thank you for getting my question. I believe this to be a grey area where people can be caught out.

In an event the question has been rendered moot, my Spain-Zurich-HKG flights were cancelled this morning without replacement.
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Old Aug 25, 20, 4:33 pm
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Originally Posted by airoli View Post
I am not sure how I can be more clear:
I have to agree with Airoli, the rules are pretty clear. If you enter Switzerland for transit purposes only, no quarantine rules will apply. Full stop.
It simply doesn't matter where you are coming from, how long you stayed there, and where you heading to and whether any of the destinations involved is part of the Schengen area or not.
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Old Aug 28, 20, 11:30 am
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The Swiss government has an update on travel to Switzerland: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/coronav...phole/45998846
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Old Aug 31, 20, 1:40 pm
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In order to avoid any confusion:
  • "Transit" in the referenced article refers to Origin - "Transit" - Switzerland.
  • Any rule regarding Switzerland as the transit point remains untouched.
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Old Sep 2, 20, 3:34 pm
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It's a bit weird. I'm a US citizen resident in the UK. I had a ticket booked ZRH-SFO. I didn't book the UK to ZRH ticket because I was unsure where I'd be coming from.

At the last minute I decided to vacation in Italy for a few days, so bought Naples - ZRH (which flew via MUC). This also involved an overnight layover in Zurich.

On arrival in ZRH, no passport control. In fact, my bags were already on the belt by the time I reached it. Smooth sailing to the hotel. No one even collected my contact tracing form.

This morning I went to board my SFO flight. At passport control to the D gates, the agent told me I was lucky I entered through Italy. If I had flown from London, I wouldn't have been allowed in. I asked to clarify that I wouldn't have been allowed to stay the night (instead of merely a short non-schengen to non-schengen connection), or if I wouldn't have been allowed in at all. He seemed to imply that I wouldn't have been allowed in at all. OK.

He also said that I'll be fine on the return (I'm connecting to LHR on the way back...).

This is all so confusing. And I seem to be very lucky at each step.
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Old Sep 6, 20, 5:04 pm
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Very interesting discussion here, thanks all.

What would happen with an overnight stop in Zurich?

Could one arrive from Spain (Schengen), leave the airport to go to a nearby hotel, come back to the airport and then cross to non-Schengen to fly elsewhere?

It's technically still "transit"...

Last edited by peteremcc; Sep 6, 20 at 5:15 pm
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Old Sep 6, 20, 5:06 pm
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Originally Posted by peteremcc View Post
Very interesting discussion here, thanks all.

What would happen with an overnight stop in Zurich?

Could one arrive from Spain (Schengen), leave the airport to go to a nearby hotel, come back to the airport and then cross to non-Schengen to fly elsewhere?

It's technically still "transit"...
Technically yes, but I wouldn't push it.
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