Switzerland cuts quarantine period for vaccinated individuals
The Swiss government has bowed to recent pressure to reduce COVID-19 quarantine and isolation periods for those who are fully vaccinated against the virus. The COVID-19 quarantine period for people who are fully vaccinated and test positive now stands at just five days.
Quarantine cut comes amidst concerns over worker shortages in Switzerland
The cut in the length of quarantine for vaccinated individuals comes amidst growing concerns that many people will be absent from work for long periods of time after testing positive for COVID-19. The new Omicron variant, which appears to spread much faster than previous mutations of the virus, has been blamed for the huge jump in cases in recent weeks.
Since Switzerland celebrated several public holidays over Christmas and New Year, case numbers soared as many people attended events with their families, causing concern amongst health experts in the country.
The new rules will see vaccinated people having to quarantine for just five days after testing positive, provided that they are symptom-free for 48 hours. The government has not stipulated whether testing will be needed to leave quarantine, though they could make clarifications on the matter in the coming days. The quarantine period for unvaccinated people in Switzerland remains at 10 days.
Isolation for COVID-19 close contacts has also changed in Switzerland
Aside from changes in quarantine periods, the government has also changed the system for the self-isolation period that close contacts of those who have recently tested positive must undertake.
Steps have been taken by the government to redefine close contacts as people who have "regular and close contact" with a person who has tested positive for the virus, including any people the infected individual may live with. The previous rule held that any person in contact with a COVID-positive person would have to go into isolation.
The isolation period for fully vaccinated close contacts has also been cut to five days, the same as the new quarantine rules, while unvaccinated contact people will be required to isolate for 10 full days. Those who have had a booster vaccination in the past four months won’t need to isolate at all.
Swiss government extends other coronavirus measures
While the government has relaxed some rules on quarantine and isolation, other public health measures have been extended and are to continue until March 31. Such measures include the use of the so-called 2G system in public spaces, limiting entry to only those who are vaccinated or recovered. Private gatherings with unvaccinated attendees are also limited to a maximum group size of 10, and a mask mandate is in place in secondary schools.
The government has justified the extension of measures after hospitals and doctors sounded the alarm over the Christmas period. There is growing concern among health officials that the Swiss healthcare system could become overwhelmed without intervention.