COVID-19 Guidance: Advice to UK businesses in Switzerland

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The current situation in Switzerland and FCO advice to UK nationals.

As you know, the Swiss Federal Government closed schools, universities, restaurants and non-essential retail until 19 April. All public and private events have been banned, including all gatherings of more than 5 people. It has also recommended people practise “social distancing” and that the public should stay at home as far as possible. The aim was to protect the most vulnerable in society and prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Federal Government has also reinstated border controls; meaning that only Swiss nationals, holders of a Swiss residence permit, including cross-border commuters and those with a professional reason (holders of a nationals visa type C or D) are allowed to enter the Confederation. However, transit through Switzerland and emergency travel are still allowed.

This means that British employees with a work and residence permit in Switzerland can continue to live and work here. All British employees wanting to re-enter Switzerland should make sure that they carry their permits with them to facilitate checks at the border. Flight and other travel options continue to narrow, which may also make re-entry difficult at short notice. New employees who are in the process of obtaining a work permit will have their applications put on hold for the time being.

On travel to the UK, the Foreign Secretary has now strongly recommended that if you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, whether working or on holiday, you should return to the UK now, while there are still commercial routes available. More information can be found on the UK Government Website.

Support available from the British Embassy

The Embassy will now operate with a reduced staff and access to the Embassy will be by appointment only. If any UK national needs assistance, they can call +41 31 359 77 00 and choose the prompt for consular assistance, or fill out our consular contact form

We understand that the COVID-19 virus and the necessary measures taken by governments around the globe have had a significant impact on day-to-day business operations. If you have any questions about what the current situation means for your company in Switzerland, you can read the guidance of the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs SECO (available in German, French and Italian) or contact them via the SECO Infoline: +41 58 462 00 66 or coronavirus@seco.admin. You can also contact the Department for International Trade at the British Embassy in Berne at: trade.berne@fco.gov.uk.

Further available information

If you require further information on the developing situation here in Switzerland, this can be found on the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health.

If you have questions about the UK government’s response to the situation, please go to the UK Government website.

If you absolutely must undertake essential travel, please consult the latest travel advice. We also recommend consulting the travel advice for Switzerland and the country you are travelling to. Please note that the UK government has temporarily advised against all but essential travel to all countries and we would like to reiterate that if you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, whether working or on holiday, you should return to the UK now. As always, we advise UK nationals who decide to travel to take out comprehensive travel insurance. You should check with your travel insurance company about the specific regulations in place with regards to the current situation.

If you have general questions about living in Switzerland go to our Living in Switzerland guide.

Please share the above information with your employees, and we remain at your disposal to answer any further questions that you may have. You can reach us at trade.berne@fco.gov.uk.

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