Free COVID PCR tests restricted in Switzerland: What expats need to know

Free COVID PCR tests restricted in Switzerland: What expats need to know

After the Swiss government lifted the requirement for COVID close contacts to isolate, the situations in which a PCR test is given out for free have been restricted further. Here's what expats need to know:

PCR tests for close contacts no longer free in Switzerland

Under previous rules, anyone who had “regular and close” contact with someone who was COVID positive had to isolate for five days. If they were a close contact of a confirmed positive case, they would be eligible for a free PCR test.

After the government changed the rules last Thursday,  PCR tests for close contacts are no longer free, as the requirement to self-isolate was scrapped. Despite the new rules, there are some situations where the government will pay for a test.

Exemptions to having to pay for a PCR test

The Swiss government will continue to cover the cost of COVID PCR tests for those who are symptomatic or test positive on a rapid antigen test.

Free tests will also be given to pensioners and elderly people who live in care facilities, patients in hospitals and workers in Swiss healthcare. Those who are at a significantly higher risk of severe illness, like those receiving cancer treatment, will also have their costs covered.

How much does a PCR test cost in Switzerland?

If you do not belong to one of these groups, you must pay for a PCR test yourself. This can cost between 110 and 195 Swiss francs, depending on where you test and how quickly you need the results.

The change to testing and isolation is only the start of new proposals by the Swiss government to scrap more COVID measures like COVID certificates and restrictions on private gatherings. Fresh relaxations are expected to be confirmed this week.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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