Switzerland just put South Africa on its 'green list' - no quarantine needed for travellers

Business Insider SA
Grindelwald, Switzerland.
Grindelwald, Switzerland. (Getty)
  • South Africa has now made it onto Switzerland's "green list" for travel, just in time for the announcement that SA's borders will open on 1 October.
  • This means visitors travelling between Switzerland and South Africa no longer have to undergo a mandatory quarantine period.
  • For South Africans looking to circumvent quarantine periods in other countries, a stop in Switzerland might help.
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Switzerland has moved South Africa onto its list of countries whose citizens do not need to quarantine for a mandatory 14 days upon arrival, just in time for the announcement that SA's borders will reopen on 1 October.

According to Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), people arriving in that country from certain destinations and regions are required to go into quarantine – and not even a negative Covid-19 test can exempt them from having to hole up in “suitable accommodation” for 10 days.

Anyone who contravenes this requirement is subject to a fine 10,000 Swiss francs, the equivalent of some R180,000.

The list of countries required to undergo this mandatory quarantine is updated regularly based on a number of factors, including the number of active cases in the specific country or region, over the past seven days.

See also | SA’s borders open on 1 October. Here’s what we know about the rules for tourists.

South Africa has been on the mandatory quarantine list for some time, but in its most recent update Switzerland declared South Africa - along with Ecuador, Faroe Islands, and Guatemala - free from this constraint.

It’s a list that changes regularly, however, and countries can be added back onto it at any time based on its active case load - as was the case with the recent reintroduction of the British Virgin Islands and Czech Republic.

Spain’s Canary Islands were also recently added to the list, which means that the entire country must now quarantine upon arrival.

The Swiss change is welcome news for SA's tourism sector, with the imminent reopening of SA's borders to tourists.

And it might mean Switzerland will serve as a good starting point for a European holiday for South Africans, with other countries yet to delist SA. 

See also | Even if borders open, SA remains red-listed by many countries, and tourists may not come

As South Africa’s number of active cases continues to subside, others like the United Kingdom and Germany are expected to follow suit. But with cases starting to climb once again in several European countries, it’s not yet clear what conditions these visitors will face on arrival in South Africa.

South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona told Business Insider South Africa that he expects that South Africa will use a similar “list” system to vet and quarantine travellers.

“When we speak about opening of borders, it will be in my view selective. So we won’t be opening to everybody, but we may segment the world into high risk, medium risk, and low risk, and actually put countries into those buckets with different criteria for each one,” says Ntshona. “

If you come from a high risk country, you might for example be subjected to a 14 day quarantine. Medium and low risk might be something different.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday suggested something similar, but did not provide any details.

According to one tally, Switzerland is in 58th position on a global list of countries with coronavirus pandemics, with 48 265 total cases.

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