PCR Tests for arrivals into Switzerland

Old Feb 9, 2021, 2:14 am
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PCR Tests for arrivals into Switzerland

Since yesterday Switzerland requires a negative PCR-Test for all international arrivals, regardless the country of departure (i.e. also from virtually COVID free countries, such as NZ or some Asian countries). However, the wording leaves a few very mportant questions open:

1. Timing: The respective ordinance (https://www.fedlex.admin.ch/eli/cc/2021/61/de) does not specify in Art. 7 whether the 72 hours are calculated before the departure abroad or before arrival into Switzerland. However, the title above Art. 7 might suggest that it is before "immigration". In TIMATIC, it is clear that it is "at most 72 hours before embarkation from the first departure point". Question: How are the 72 hours calculated?

2. Transit pax: The ordinance is clear in Art. 7 I lit b that the testing requirement only applies for pax entering Switzerland ("in die Schweiz einreisen"). Art. 8 I lit. f of the same ordinance explicitly excempts transit pax from the testing requirement. However TIMATIC also requires transit pax to perform a test. Question: How to prove it to check in agents if TIMATIC explicitly says the contrary of the ordinance. The latter is only available in German, French and Italian.

3. Exceptions: The ordinance specifies in Art. 8 further exceptions to the testing (and in case of high risk countries also the quarantine) requirement. Probably the most relevant ones are "important business travel" (lit. c and d), sport/culture/congresses (lit. g). TIMATIC mentions that there are "more exceptions" and provides a link which leads to an English language summary of the ordinance (mentioning business travel but not some of the other exceptions) and, in a second step, to the ordinance (in German). Question: How can someone prove to check-in agents that one of the exceptions apply?

Does anyone have first hand experience how this is handled? The information provided on the Swiss website is following the lines of TIMATIC, however, as discussed above, this differs from the ordinance. And the difference is not uniform: In respect of the timing, TIMATIC is more relaxed, in respect of transit it is more strict than the ordinance.

Last edited by swiss_global; Feb 9, 2021 at 1:41 pm
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Old Feb 9, 2021, 3:24 am
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To clarify your intro: The requirement for a negative PCR test irrespective of origin only applies to arrival by airplane - which is the focus of FT anyways.

I noticed the same inconsistencies a few days ago when reading the ordinance, particularly the point about transit.

To further complicate / confuse, article 5 (lit 1+2) say that airlines are obligated to verify the presence of a negative PCR test result prior to embarkation on a flight to Switzerland, and that they have to deny boarding to people without a valid, negative test result. Unlike in articles 7 and 8, no exceptions are specified in article 5. This leads to the wording on the Swiss website, stating that all passengers, including transit pax, require a test.

The ordinance seems shoddily and confusingly written. It would be good for a probing journalist to grill the responsible authorities on the inconsistencies.
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Old Feb 9, 2021, 11:05 am
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oh crap. What a mess. Hopefully someone will clarify this soon.
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Old Feb 9, 2021, 1:39 pm
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Originally Posted by airoli
To clarify your intro: The requirement for a negative PCR test irrespective of origin only applies to arrival by airplane - which is the focus of FT anyways.
Yes, thanks for including this part of the regulation. You are right, it only applies to arrivals by plane.

Originally Posted by airoli
The ordinance seems shoddily and confusingly written. It would be good for a probing journalist to grill the responsible authorities on the inconsistencies.
As far as I know, the respective section was included by the Bundesrat (cabinet of ministers) during the meeting. As the ordinance was published immediately after the cabinet meeting, I guess there was no proof reading. Perhaps being written that way, it even better achieves the purpose, to deter people from traveling ...
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Old Feb 10, 2021, 10:39 am
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Just an update: According to the website TravelInside the FOPH is preparing a proposal to the cabinet of ministers, in order to clarify the ordinance. The decision is scheduled for the cabinet meeting on 17 February 2021.
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Old Feb 11, 2021, 1:24 am
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Just received an email from Swiss.
It says that they require a test at check-in (max 72 hours old at departure) no matter where you come from and also as a transit passenger.
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Old Feb 11, 2021, 3:26 am
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Also antigen test not accepted which is a pain as they can be done in 15 minutes and relatively cheaply.
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Old Feb 11, 2021, 3:27 am
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Originally Posted by Carpacchio
Just received an email from Swiss.
It says that they require a test at check-in (max 72 hours old at departure) no matter where you come from and also as a transit passenger.
Got this email too, a move in the right direction. Better than shutting down everything for a couple of month until the vaccine takes effect. This said, traveling should really be limited (or even better stopped) NOW, too many "important" "professional" reasons or people with double nationality being "unreasonable".
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Old Feb 11, 2021, 7:30 am
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It doesnt make any sense to require PCR for transit pax. Antigen should be enough. Gonna be fun to rebook through FRA MUC or VIE instead
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Old Feb 11, 2021, 3:52 pm
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Is there any move in CH to allow proof of vaccination in place of a PCR test? Second question: in any case, is quarantine waived for important business meetings? Who can attend a business meeting if one has to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days?
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Old Feb 12, 2021, 12:19 am
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Originally Posted by sfoeuroflyer
Is there any move in CH to allow proof of vaccination in place of a PCR test? Second question: in any case, is quarantine waived for important business meetings? Who can attend a business meeting if one has to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days?
probably too early to allow proof of vaccination instead of a PCR test...
no official exceptions
the quarantine has been reduced to 7 days... a small fraction in comparison to 21 days in China or 16 days in Thailand...
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Old Feb 12, 2021, 4:09 am
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Originally Posted by behuman
Got this email too, a move in the right direction. Better than shutting down everything for a couple of month until the vaccine takes effect. This said, traveling should really be limited (or even better stopped) NOW, too many "important" "professional" reasons or people with double nationality being "unreasonable".
Well, it's good to have a clear answer to that very basic question about whether we need a test or not. It's a shame not to have purchased that interesting flight option that I saw for Germany (it was routed all over the place because of the lack of flights but only cost 200) but I am happy I booked the train.
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Old Feb 12, 2021, 9:42 am
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It is interesting that the Swiss government accepts proof of having had the virus as an exception to the quarantine rule, but not the vaccine. Both produce anti-bodies and would seem, actually, to favor vaccine over proof of having had the disease.
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Old Feb 12, 2021, 5:02 pm
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Originally Posted by sfoeuroflyer
It is interesting that the Swiss government accepts proof of having had the virus as an exception to the quarantine rule, but not the vaccine. Both produce anti-bodies and would seem, actually, to favor vaccine over proof of having had the disease.
While it would make sense that the scientific evidence will eventually support your proposition, as it stands, it is entirely possible that those who have been vaccinated are still able to shed the virus, while those who have recovered from the virus do not shed it.
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Old Feb 13, 2021, 9:08 am
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Originally Posted by Often1
While it would make sense that the scientific evidence will eventually support your proposition, as it stands, it is entirely possible that those who have been vaccinated are still able to shed the virus, while those who have recovered from the virus do not shed it.
I find it essentially impossible to imagine that people who have recovered from the virus are less likely to pass along the virus than those who have been vaccinated. In both cases we are talking about antibodies...those who have had the virus and recovered produced antibodies as a reaction to the virus; those who have been vaccinated produce antibodies as a reaction to the vaccine.
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