The below post was submitted on 23 February 2020 and updated until 25 April 2020. As of 27 April 2020, Switzerland slowly started lifting some of the bans to contain the coronavirus. A new discussion about the current situation can be found here. The below post is archived and closed.
--- SWITZERLAND AND THE CORONAVIRUS: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ---
1. Can I visit Switzerland now?
Entry into Switzerland as a tourist is not possible at the moment. Public transport is operational, but schedules are less frequent and non-essential travels need to be avoided. Border crossings to and from surrounding countries are very limited. Tourist attractions and the catering industry are mostly closed. Food stores are open. A gradual relaxation of measures is planned: see #2. Detailed information about the situation in Switzerland is provided under #5 and #6.
2. When and how will Switzerland ease its corona measures?
On April 16, the Swiss government announced a 3-phase plan to gradually relax measures. Each phase can be entered only if everyone complies to the measures and if there's no acceleration in the spreading of the virus:
- as of Monday April 27, some businesses like hairdressers, garden centers and hardware stores can re-open their doors. Hospitals may resume all regular and non-urgent medical interventions, and restrictions for doctors' and dental practices will be lifted;
- as of Monday May 11, compulsory schools and other shops should open again;
- as of Monday June 8, museums, zoos and libraries should re-open, as well as higher education establishments.
The SBB (the national Swiss railways) are planning a staged return to the normal timetable from April 27 (see #6). There are no updates on the catering industry, tourist attractions and larger gatherings. Most branches will first have to develop plans for a gradual and safe return, ensuring social distancing. A date for the re-opening of Swiss borders can't provided yet.
3. When and how can I travel to Switzerland again?
Unfortunately, it’s too early to tell when and how Switzerland will be accessible for tourists. We’ll regularly update our information and tips.
4. How can I cancel bookings for my planned Switzerland trip?
- We recommend to not cancel too early, because it may not be clear yet whether traveling will not be possible by that time. If you cancel closer to your trip, you'll have a better chance of special cancellation policies being in place;
- to cancel, please contact the company you purchased from;
- check hotel booking policies: many hotels can be cancelled free of charge until fairly short notice. Please find suggested hotels here;
- check train/plane ticket cancellation options. Swiss Travel Passes are normally 85% refundable if cancelled before the start date (read the rest of this thread for further information). The rest might be covered by your travel insurance, depending on the circumstances and policy. If you're not sure you will travel, do not buy your Swiss Travel Pass until 3 business days before your trip. Most retailers deliver the pass via e-mail within 30 minutes, or 2 working days in some cases. Please find a retailer list here and more on how/where to buy here. Please find train ticket and pass details here.
- you can check your travel insurance policies if you can't get a (full) refund or voucher from the company you purchased from: insurance companies may offer a compensation if there is an official recommendation to avoid the area you've planned to visit;
- Coronavirus related links of retailers and operators:
5. What's the current coronavirus situation in Switzerland? (last update: April 25)
Patients have been diagnosed positive for the coronavirus all over the world. Italy and Spain have most patients within Europe. Traveling in and to Europe for leisure activities is impossible at the moment. This is the situation for Switzerland:
- About 29,000 patients have been diagnosed positive;
- as of 25 March 2020, entry into Switzerland is only possible for people living or working there. This ban may be in place for a maximum of 6 months, or may be lifted before that;
- all public events have been cancelled;
- non-essential public places like museums, zoos, casino's, cable cars, restaurants and hair salons are closed;
- essential public facilities like supermarkets, meal delivery services, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, train stations and petrol stations are open and maintain additional hygiene rules;
- it is advised to only leave home for grocery shopping and for work that can't be done at home;
- gatherings of more than 5 people are not allowed;
- public transportation is limited, although a staged return to the normal timetable will take place from April 27. Please find more information under #6;
- there's a 3-phase plan to ease measures in April, May and June. Shops, schools and medical establishments will gradually re-open. Please find more information under #2.
6. What's the current public transportation situation in Switzerland?
In short, this is the situation:
- public transport from town to town operates on a reduced schedule until at least 26 April 2020;
- the timetable is up-to-date and will be adjusted each day. The timetable includes all modes of transport, including cable cars and mountain trains. Alternatively, links to timetables and the latest news of individual mountain transport/boats/etc. can be found on our activity pages: www.myswissalps.com/activities;
- a staged return to the normal timetable will take place from April 27, with more comprehensive steps from May 11: news.sbb.ch/artikel/96331/coronavirus-severe-restrictions-to-swiss-rail-travel;
- Saver Day Passes and Supersaver Tickets are not available at the moment;
- special tourist trains, chartered trains and some international trains are cancelled;
- on-board restaurants are closed and there are no catering services on the trains;
- cable cars and mountain trains are operational if they are needed to reach towns. They are closed if they are only needed to reach leisure areas, like mountain peaks.
This means that you can travel everywhere, including scenic routes, but only on the regular trains. Nevertheless you need to avoid public transport for leisure trips. If you're still in Switzerland right now, we recommend to explore the immediate surroundings of your base town on foot and follow the advice of the Swiss government and local authorities.
This is the status for panoramic trains:
7. Where can I find official information about the coronavirus situation in Switzerland and elsewhere?
Please find the latest information on the current coronavirus (2019-nCoV/COVID-19) through the below links:
8. What can I do to prevent from catching or spreading the virus?
General recommendations to limit the risk to catch this virus (or any kind of flu), or infect someone else, are to:
- stay at home as much as possible, if this is advised by your government or local authorities;
- carefully wash your hands with soap, and do so often, at least before eating and after a toilet visit. Use an alcohol based hand sanitiser too, at least after using public toilets. Only use paper or clean towels, or a warm air dryer;
- not touch your face if your hands are not clean;
- sneeze or cough in your elbow, not in your hand;
- avoid shaking hands and other physical contact. Maintain 2 meters distance to other people. Avoid farm animals too;
- avoid mouth masks unless you have flu like symptoms, and only use them correctly. Using them incorrectly can increase the risk;
- avoid crowds like concerts, public transport rush hour, etc.
- stay indoors and away from others if you have a fever, are coughing or have any other cold like symptoms;
- call for medical advice if you have symptoms. Only visit a hospital if you are instructed to do so.
Keep in mind:
- apply the above recommendations both at home and while being out;
- there's a flu virus going around the world every year. What makes the coronavirus different, is that it's new and there's no medicine yet, so it's much harder to stop the virus from spreading. Apart from that, there's an economic impact of the measurements trying to stop the virus. The measures put in place are meant to control the spreading of the virus, in order to make sure hospitals are not getting more patients than they can handle.
9. What can MySwissAlps.com do to help me?
This is how we can help:
- we regularly update this thread, and we try to keep you well informed about the situation in Switzerland and the options for travelers;
- if necessary, we’ll try to assist you with issues concerning bookings made through our partners (see #4);
- our website and moderators remain available to help you to plan your future holidays and to address your questions and concerns;
- we'll be posting images for those who miss the Swiss Alps here: www.myswissalps.com/coronavirus;
- once traveling to Switzerland is possible again, we’ll gladly explain how to do so safely and which options are available.
Do you have any suggestions for us? Let us know!
We hope this crisis will soon be defeated and that we can all enjoy Switzerland again. Meanwhile, stay safe!
Disclaimer: we are no doctors, nor local authorities. Please consult the websites mentioned under #7 and your doctor for more information and health questions.