International Intel Series: A Q&A on Switzerland’s Reopening

EF’s global presence is truly unmatched. We’re talking staff on the ground 365 days a year in over 50 countries. That means we have the local knowledge to keep our groups safe, and you’ll have friendly faces nearby to offer a helping hand (or a high five).

As your partner in international education, we are committed to providing ongoing updates of situations around the world. In our new Q&A series, we will be tapping into our local experts across the world, to get the inside scoop on how various cities and countries around the world are handling re-openings amidst COVID-19.

Photo by Sven Fischer on Unsplash

Below is an interview recorded on 6.18.2020 with Sarah D., our Associate Director of Operations, on how Switzerland is handling the re-opening of the country. As this is an evolving situation, please always be sure to check our country insights page here for bi-weekly updates!

Q) What are the current guidelines in Switzerland today? 

Already at the end of April (27th), with new Coronavirus cases slowing significantly, Switzerland started gradually loosening quarantine restrictions and reopen some amenities; starting with DIY stores, garden centers & hairdressers.  Since mid-May (11th), retail stores, markets, restaurants, museums & primary schools have reopened to the public with social distancing guidelines.   

As of June 6, secondary schools and universities have reopened as well as cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, zoos, swimming pools, holiday camps and mountain cable cars! 

We’re still being encouraged to socially distance wherever possible and in cases where that’s not possible (for example, when you go to the hairdresser) you must wear a mask.  There is currently no mandate to wear face masks outside in public. 

Gatherings of up to 30 people are permitted and larger groups (4+) can enjoy dinner at a restaurant. 

Q) How has the city felt since it started to open back up? 

Life is slowly returning to “normal” here in Switzerland.  Although we were never under complete lockdown, there are a lot more people going about their normal lives – commuting to work, out shopping or just enjoying a coffee with friends. 

Q) What have you most looked forward to coming out of lockdown? 

Although my family are all back in the UK, I have looked forward to meeting up with friends at a café/bar and catching up in person. 

Q) How do you feel about the county’s response to the pandemic? 

I think Switzerland has taken a gradual and sensible approach to the pandemic by slowing easing the restrictions in 3 phases over the past 2 months.  We’re extremely fortunate that daily new cases of coronavirus have remained low so life has been slowly restored back to normal for people here.  

Q) How do you personally feel going about your day outside now?

I don’t feel anxious about leaving the house & going about my normal life.  Hand sanitizer is made available around the city and spacing is clearly marked in front of shops, cafes, etc. to enable social distancing guidelines. 

Q) What advice would you give to travelers who might be cautious about visiting Switzerland when borders open to US travelers? 

Switzerland has managed the pandemic extremely well and has put all the necessary precautions in place to reduce the risk of a second outbreak.  The country is not overpopulated so social distancing, even in larger cities, has not been problematic.  For the more cautious traveler, I would recommend getting off the beaten track and heading into nature where social distancing is much easier. 

Q) Do you plan to travel yourself? 

Yes – it’s been really nice to travel around Switzerland as there are no travel restrictions within the county.  The borders will reopen to neighboring countries in a few days, so no doubt I will plan a road trip in the summer.

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