Switzerland Looks Set to be Next Alpine Country to be Added to UK Quarantine List
25th August 2020 | James Cove, Switzerland
Last modified on August 27th, 2020
First it was France, then Austria and now it is looking like Switzerland. An announcement is expected on Thursday with new measures possibly coming into force on Saturday morning. PlanetSKI reports from Switzerland. NEW & UPDATED
The UK government is sticking strictly to its rules on which countries go on and off the quarantine list.
Judgements are usually made on a Thursday and the speculation is that Switzerland could be added.
Last week Scotland added Switzerland to its list, so it seemed only a matter of time before the UK as a whole would follow suit.
PlanetSKI is currently in the Swiss Alps and we booked our return trip for this Friday night, August 28th, rather than our preferred option of next week, expecting a quarantine ruling given the rising numbers.
It seems we may have made the right call, but it is hard on Switzerland and those UK tourists in the Swiss Alps or planning a holiday later this summer.
One of the criteria used by the UK government is the new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period.
It is 39 in Switzerland and on a par with Croatia when it had quarantine introduced last week.
Croatia is now risen to 63.
The UK itself currently stands at 22.5.
Austria was at 30.8 when it was added last week and France is now at 62.8.
The number of new positive cases in Switzerland has increased in recent weeks.
On August 25th, the seven-day average reached 263.9 new cases per day – an increase of 20% on the previous week.
Switzerland has seen 40, 262 confirmed cases of coronavirus overall since the pandemic began, with 2,002 deaths from a population of 8.5m.
With numbers rising new measures have been put in place.
Each canton has different rules, but is compulsory for people to wear a facemask on public transport and many cantons now require them to be worn in shops and other public areas.
The canton of Geneva has closed nightclubs and cabarets.
I am in Basel in the north of Switzerland.
Most people are wearing masks in shops and garages, and out on the streets.
And on public transport.
But not everyone is 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.
The move, if it comes, 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 if quarantine can be imposed so swiftly and with little warning.
Switzerland Tourism in London has already cancelled its traditional ‘Winter Launch’ event to the travel media.
The Association of British Travel Agents, Abta, is urging the government to adopt a regionalised approach to quarantine rules and Foreign Office travel advice.
Without it, says Abta, “it is difficult to see how the UK can reopen travel to critical trade partners in the foreseeable future”.
We are heading to the Aosta Valley in Italy for a couple of days and then its back over the St Bernard Pass and returning through Switzerland, before crossing back across France in a private car and taking the Channel Tunnel back to the UK.
Even though France is on the quarantine list this remains within the UK government rules as long as we stay in our vehicle in France and use the Channel Tunnel rather than a ferry.
So, what is causing the rise in Switzerland?
Since mid-June the number of new cases has begun to slowly creep up in different parts of the country.
This has been partly due to people returning from at-risk countries, but the authorities mainly put it down to contacts at home, at the workplace and private parties.
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.
Anyone travelling from Switzerland to Scotland from August 22nd has needed to self-isolate for 14 days.
Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this story later today as we head into the Alps and gauge further reaction in Switzerland to the possible quarantine measures.
And then we will be reporting from the Aosta Valley in the neighbouring Italian Alps where quarantine looks unlikely in the short term.
And the summer scenery looks stunning.
Italy’s rate remains at 15.7 per 100,000 of population over a 14-day period, but it is rising.
PlanetSKI will be enjoying summer in the Alps, while we still can.