Switzerland Now Under UK Quarantine
29th August 2020 | James Cove, Switzerland
Last modified on May 14th, 2021
Anyone entering the UK from Switzerland now has to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. PlanetSKI was in the country as the quarantine was announced and we gauged the reaction & impact before leaving ahead of the deadline.
We visited the north of Switzerland around Basel, crossed through the centre and headed south to the western Swiss Alps.
Like anywhere with the virus around, and rising, it looked normal.
It was hard to believe a pandemic was on the rise.
But the UK government has decided with cases rising to there was an increased risk that people coming from the country might bring the virus with them back to the UK.
Switzerland’s total of infected people per 100,000 has risen from 18.5 to 22 over the past 7-days.
The UK’s own infection rate per 100,000 people is below that of Switzerland.
Switzerland’s threshold for requiring a mandatory quarantine is however much higher than that in the UK, set at 60 new infections per 100,000.
It was widely predicted to be the case, Switzerland looks set to be next country to be added to UK quarantine list.
The quarantine announcement duly happened on Thursday, Switzerland placed on UK quarantine list.
1.6 million British people travelled to the country last year.
The UK is the third largest foreign market for Switzerland.
“Swiss tourism cannot afford to do without guests from abroad in the long term,” said Swiss Tourism Federation director, Barbara Gisi.
Many in Switzerland think it is an over-reaction by the UK government and the country has handled the pandemic well despite a shaky start and the recent upsurge.
It has had 41,006 confirmed cases and 1,724 deaths in a population of 8.5m.
Many of the new cases come from the city of Zurich in the north of the country.
I began my Swiss tour in Basel, near Zurich, at the beginning of the week.
Most people were wearing masks in shops and garages, and out on the streets.
And on public transport.
But not everyone was convinced.
“My German language teacher, an otherwise responsible Swiss citizen, says it is an affront to her individual freedom and national identity to wear a mask and refuses to do so,” was how one local resident put it to me.
Crossing the country things could hardly have looked more normal.
“Look at the nature, the virus doesn’t live here,” was what one local told me as I filled up with petrol.
It was hard to disagree.
I passed by the ski resort of Verbier in the south of the country and it looked like any other summer in this part of the Alps.
Back in winter it was a known hotspot and a local doctor called for the area to be sealed off from the rest of the Valais as the virus spread through the resort.
Covid-19 is unseen as it spreads.
Some are taking it seriously on the lifts in Verbier.
From Monday masks will be compulsory in shops.
“We’re not that bothered about quarantine to be honest, it’s a good idea in many ways especially if the schools are to be given half a chance,” said one PlanetSKI reader who is in Verbier at the moment.
“We are vulnerable so always take extra care wherever we are.
“Many people are not socially distanced or wearing masks and I think they have probably already had the virus and feel immune or they are young and invincible.
“Of course it’s an inconvenience but we would self-isolate anyway out of respect for others.
“You never know what you could be carrying back with you and it’s a good idea to be careful in these strange times.
“We are lucky that it won’t affect our work but if it did, we would take a holiday in the UK to avoid being caught out.”
However some businesses in the resort are angry at the introduction of quarantine.
The say the UK summer market has been hard hot and now fear for the winter.
“It is very safe here with people able to get a test if required and cases have fallen sharply since the pandemic begin,” was how one local business owner put it.
The quarantine move will have an impact on the rest of the summer for tourism from the UK and will raise concerns about next winter too.
Some skiers and snowboarders will be concerned that quarantine can be imposed so quickly and may not want to take the risk at the moment of booking a winter snowsports holiday in Switzerland if quarantine can be imposed so swiftly and with little warning.
Many ski resorts will be looking to the winter and wondering what it may mean for bookings and what happens if similar measures are introduced next winter.
There has been some swift reaction over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page with some interesting points raised and questions asked.
- Our guess, and we stress it is only a guess, is that Switzerland will be off the list fairly shortly. Unlike France and Spain, we do not think there will be a sharp increase in cases in the next few weeks. Austria was put on the list last week and cases remain fairly stable. Switzerland will likely be the same. Austria remains on the list but not far off being removed.
- Most of the measures in the UK (masks, social distancing etc…) are not enforceable by law. Quarantine regulations are. People who do not self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and £480 in Scotland, and there are fines up to £5,000 for persistent offenders. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, yesterday said people also face getting a criminal record.
- O no! Your fun time might get upset due to a global pandemic, how sad.
- I didn’t explain myself very well. Keeping safe is an absolute must and I get it. BUT….there needs to come a point where everyone has to adapt so things can carry on. The damage to the economy, travel industry, in-fact everything is massive.
Feel free to add you thoughts on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.