Coronavirus: Quarantine and requirement to work from home apply until end of February; other measures provisionally until end of March

Bern, 19.01.2022 - In view of the strained situation in hospitals, the Federal Council is extending the validity of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. That is the decision taken at the meeting on 19 January. The requirement to work from home will stay in place until the end of February, as well as the rules on contact quarantine. The '2G' and '2G plus' rule for certain indoor settings, the extended mask requirement in indoor settings, the '3G' rule for outdoor events with over 300 people, and restrictions on private gatherings will apply until the end of March. The Federal Council will continuously monitor the pandemic situation to decide whether measures can be lifted earlier. The Federal Council is also shortening the validity period of certificates issued as proof of vaccination and recovery from COVID-19 to 270 days from the end of January.

On 17 December, the Federal Council imposed tighter restrictions, including the '2G' and '2G plus' rule in certain indoor settings, restrictions on private gatherings and a requirement to work from home. These measures are set to expire on 24 January, as is the extended certificate requirement imposed by the Federal Council last September.

In view of the continuing strained situation in hospitals, the Federal Council, after consulting the cantons, social partners, parliamentary committees and relevant associations, is extending the requirement to work from home until the end of February, and the remaining measures until the end of March. All of the cantons generally came out in favour of extending the validity of the measures. The Federal Council continually monitors whether developments allow measures to be lifted at an earlier date. At its meeting on 2 February, it will discuss a possible easing of measures.

Contact quarantine limited to the end of February
Following the consultation, the Federal Council has also decided to limit contact quarantine until the end of February. The Federal Council significantly shortened the quarantine period on 12 January. It now only applies to persons who live in the same household as someone who has tested positive, or who has had close contact in other ways. The risk of infection in these cases remains high. Quarantine significantly
helps to prevent people from transmitting the virus, such as in the workplace. People who have been vaccinated or have recovered in the last four months are also exempted from contact quarantine.

Validity of COVID certificate shortened to 270 days
The Federal Council is shortening the validity period of all vaccination certificates from 365 to 270 days from 31 January. This ensures that the Swiss certificate continues to be recognised in the EU. Certificates issued as proof of recovery from COVID-19 will also only be valid for 270 days.

Amended rules on testing to enter Switzerland
From Saturday, 22 January, persons who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19 will no longer be required to present a negative PCR or rapid antigen test before entering Switzerland. Persons who are not vaccinated or who have not recovered from COVID-19 will
still have to take the tests to enter the country. However, due to limited testing capacity, travellers will no longer be required to take follow-up tests four to seven days after arriving, meaning that the '3G' rule applies to enter Switzerland. The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) will only have to be completed by those travelling to Switzerland by plane or on a long-distance bus service.

Selective adjustments following the consultation
Following the consultation, the Federal Council has decided on the following adjustments, valid from 25 January:

-  The requirement to record contact details is to be lifted due to the more limited contact quarantine. Until now, this requirement was applicable at clubs and discos and at certain indoor events with unrestricted access for up to 50 people (such as religious services).

-  In view of the high number of cases and more limited contact quarantine, having sufficient cantonal capacity to carry out contact tracing is no longer a prerequisite for the approval of large-scale events.

- Further amendments concern cantonal exemptions from the requirement to restrict access to large-scale outdoor events, the '3G' rule for sitting federal baccalaureate exams, extending the deadline for issuing a medical certificate for people who cannot be vaccinated or tested on medical grounds, and amendments to the COVID-19 Ordinance on loss of earnings.

No change to mask requirement
Based on the outcome of the consultation, the Federal Council is not making any further changes regarding rules on isolation, a stricter mask requirement or a ban on face-to-face teaching at higher education institutions. It has also decided against tightening the national rules for large
events, such as compulsory seating when eating/drinking or capacity restrictions, as requested by several cantons.

New prioritisation for PCR tests
Due to the high demand for tests and stretched laboratory capacity, the Federal Office of Public Health will recommend to the cantons a new list to prioritise the handling of PCR tests:

1. People at high risk with symptoms or who have had contact with someone who has tested positive

2. Pool tests in healthcare institutions (hospitals and clinics, retirement and care homes)

3. Pool tests in critical infrastructures (defined by the cantons)

4. Tests of people with symptoms (also possible using rapid antigen tests)

5. Pool tests at schools

6. Pool tests in the workplace

7. Tests for professional or private travel (if PCR test required)

8. Tests upon request (to obtain a test certificate)

In order to further relieve pressure on PCR testing capacities, it will be possible on a temporary basis from 24 January to obtain a Swiss certificate proving recovery from COVID-19 based on a positive rapid antigen test. This will then be valid for 270 days and only in Switzerland.


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