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Swiss Covid-19 Restrictions Impact Travel

Switzerland has ordered all arrivals from the UK into 10-days quarantine due to the omicron variant. Swiss resorts are affected, but many people also fly into Geneva airport to access ski resorts in France. UPDATED

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UPDATE, Tuesday November 30th:

The UK government has updated its travel advice for Switzerland and people arriving from the UK can now transit through to other countries.

That means people can use Geneva airport to get to ski resorts in France.

See our updated story here:

The article below was posted on Monday 29th November ahead of the change.

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The new rules will have implications for many of the French ski areas as Geneva airport serves as a transport hub.

We reported on the breaking news from Switzerland over the weekend:

The regulations on transit passengers at Geneva airport have not been confirmed by Swiss authorities though the UK government web site states that travellers from the UK must isolate “including if transiting through Switzerland to another country.”

This could have a significant impact on the approaching season, depending on how long the rule remains in place.

Many travelling resort staff plus skiers & snowboarders who have booked early season trips are affected.

Some ski travel agents are advising people planning to fly into Geneva in the immediate future to look at re-routing via the French airports of Lyon or Grenoble to access resorts in France.

Geneva airport. Image © PlanetSKI

Geneva airport. Image © PlanetSKI

We understand some airlines have met with officials from Geneva airport “to see what (if any) solutions are possible”.

Some travellers who arrived at Geneva airport from the UK on Sunday were turned back and had to return to the UK.

“We flew to Geneva yesterday morning, had a pre-booked transfer by road to Italy,” said one PlanetSKI reader on our Facebook page on Monday.

“We were refused entry by Swiss border and put on a plane back to Manchester immediately. UK Govt website and FCDO advice was only corrected in the afternoon.”

Others were unable to board Swiss-bound flights in the UK.

Another reader went through Geneva and on to France without incident, but she has French residency.

“There is currently confusion as to the rules for UK citizens flying into Geneva and transiting onto another country,” said the transfer company, Bens Bus.

“Confused? So are we! The safest bet would be to ask your airline. Either way, if you do plan on flying into Geneva, it is highly advisable to have proof of onward transport to your final destination,” the transfer company added.

One case of the omicron variant has been reported in Switzerland.

It has been found in a person who returned to Switzerland from South Africa a week ago.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Switzerland has been rising significantly in the past weeks.

On Friday, 8,032 new cases were reported, that is 50% higher than the level earlier in that week.

Confirmed cases are doubling every two weeks in Switzerland.

TUI, operates the UK’s largest ski tour operator, Crystal Ski Holidays.

“Any customers who do not wish to travel and are due to travel up to and including 13 December can change their holiday fee-free using the Crystal Ski Holidays free changes policy,” it said in a statement.

“We will continue to monitor the restrictions and if quarantine is still enforced for all UK arrivals, we will cancel holidays and customers would receive a full refund within 14 days.”

EasyJet  said its passengers “can change their flights without a change fee up to two hours before departure.”

EasyJet customers can receive a refund, voucher or free transfer to a later date.

Skiing in Switzerland has also been affected.

Here is the comment of one PlanetSKI reader that reflects the situation of many.

The Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade has been cancelled.

It was to have taken place December 11th to 21st in Switzerland and the event is the largest multisport competition for students.

It is the International University Sports Federation’s flagship winter sports event.

“We are incredibly sad that we cannot hold this great event and thank everyone who has done and invested so much in the past few years,” said the President Swiss University Sports, Mike Kurt.

“We are convinced that Lucerne will have a long-term legacy in 2021 despite the cancellation for Swiss sports.”

Almost 50 legacy projects will continue.

Apart from the UK, other countries are on the Swiss list for restrictions.

They include The Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Hong Kong, Israel, Egypt and Malawi .

Flights from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Namibia are not allowed to land in Switzerland.

Here at PlanetSKI we are seeking clarification of travel arrangements, but accurate information is not always easy to come by.

Some have described it to us as “travel chaos”.

On Sunday the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health indicated that no UK resident or citizen would be allowed into the country if arriving from the UK.

See the last paragraph in its initial statement.

Federal Office for Public Health

Federal Office for Public Health

It then updated the information taking out the ban impacting UK nationals heading to Switzerland from the UK.

Federal Office for Public Health

Federal Office for Public Health

Many news web sites including The Local – Switzerland, PlanetSKI and others duly reported it in good faith.

Official web sites from national governments are usually seen as a source of accurate information.

With regard to using Geneva airport to access resort in France  are checking as a matter of urgency and updating.

“These changes will add cost to people’s holidays which will undoubtedly impact consumer demand and hold back the industry’s recovery, so it’s vital that this decision is kept under careful review and restrictions are lifted promptly if it becomes clear there is not a risk to the UK vaccination programme,” said a statement from the Association of British Travel Agents, ABTA.

“The government must also now consider offering tailored support for travel businesses, which have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic.”

The only thing clear at the moment is that much is unclear.

Stay tuned….

We endeavor to ensure the information provided here is as complete and up-to-date as possible. However, please be aware that we assume no liability in this respect. Information provided by PlanetSKI should be checked with the official information provided by the authorities. The situation regarding travel warnings and local rules changes quickly.

Image © PlanetSKI

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