Holidays abroad – tour operators are calling for the end of the PCR tests for Swiss flights

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If representatives of the tourism industry have their way, Switzerland should abandon the mandatory PCR tests. Otherwise the Swiss would have their holidays screwed up.

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The summer vacation is coming soon. If you want to fly from Switzerland, you need a negative PCR test or rapid antigen test. The federal government prescribes this. But if you want to fly back to Switzerland, only a negative PCR test is allowed.

AFP

That goes into the money.  For a family of four, you quickly pay around 600 francs to be tested against corona using a PCR test.

That goes into the money. For a family of four, you quickly pay around 600 francs to be tested against corona using a PCR test.

AFP

Various countries, including Spain, now also allow the cheaper rapid antigen test to enter the country.  With this and other measures, Spain hopes to attract holidaymakers in order to stimulate the ailing economy again.

Various countries, including Spain, now also allow the cheaper rapid antigen test to enter the country. With this and other measures, Spain hopes to attract holidaymakers, to revive the ailing economy.

AFP

  • Anyone arriving by plane can now prove a negative result in Spain or Italy using a rapid antigen test.

  • A PCR test is necessary for this in Switzerland.

  • The travel industry is clearly demanding that Switzerland also allow rapid entry tests.

  • This demand is viewed critically in politics.

  • An epidemiologist assesses the situation.

If you want to travel to Switzerland by plane, you need a PCR test. This mainly goes into the money. In Spain, for example, a test quickly costs 150 francs. Spain takes a different approach: there, the significantly cheaper and faster antigen tests are also permitted for entry. With this and other measures, Spain hopes to attract holidaymakers again in order to stimulate the ailing economy again. The rapid tests are also approved for entry into Italy.

PCR test should go

Tour operators are demanding that Switzerland waive the mandatory PCR test upon entry. For a family of four, the entry test can cost up to 600 francs, which becomes “a real budget question”, says Globetrotter boss André Lüthi. Rapid antigen tests are not only significantly cheaper, they also have another advantage. “For a PCR test you have to do laboratory tests and wait a long time, with the antigen test that is not necessary. Organizationally, that would certainly have many advantages. “

Other travel providers also wanted the tests to be handled like in Spain and Italy. They fear that the Swiss would otherwise tend to travel by car or not go abroad at all. “A pragmatic approach in Spain with the antigen test would undoubtedly also be welcomed in Helvetia,” says Matthias Reimann, media spokesman for Knecht Reisen. The travel company Kuoni would also be happy if an antigen test were sufficient for re-entry into Switzerland.

André Lüthi’s demand goes one step further: not only the PCR tests, but also the quarantine list should be replaced by consistent test controls in the future. “Some countries have been on the list several times this year and then not. That is difficult to understand. ” The reason for this is the link to the Swiss infection figures. “The lower the numbers in Switzerland, the more countries come back on the list that were considered safe two weeks earlier. It would be better to really systematically check the tests when entering Switzerland and to abolish the quarantine list, ”said Lüthi.

Politics oppose the demand

Politicians, on the other hand, want to stick to the PCR tests. “Switzerland has now done a lot right in dealing with the pandemic. A short-term tourism competition could turn into a boomerang, ”says Center National Councilor Lorenz Hess. Hess regards being able to visit Switzerland only with a negative PCR test as a seal of approval. “We are seen as a safe country, which is just as attractive for tourism. In the medium and long term, we will benefit more from it than if we now relax the test specifications. “

SP National Councilor Franziska Roth shares the concerns. The epidemiological situation around the world is not yet as relaxed as it would be. Antigen tests are less informative than PCR tests. “Giving up health measures that are sensible for tourism is the wrong way to go.” Epidemiologists also confirm that PCR tests deliver reliable results and are important in the fight against the spread of mutations (see box).

According to infectiologist Andreas Cerny, a major disadvantage of the antigen tests is that they are less sensitive than the PCT tests. It happens that a person with a low viral load incorrectly receives a negative test result – in contrast to the PCR test, which detects practically all infected people. “The advantage is that it costs less and can be done in around 20 minutes.”

Cerny is critical of the proposal to also allow rapid antigen tests for flights, especially with a view to the Delta variant, which is still spreading rapidly in many countries. “At the moment we are working on further opening up society. It is therefore certainly wise to keep an eye on the possible introduction of SARS CoV-2. Here we are particularly concerned about the delta variant. This is still increasing in England », says Cerny.

If you want to travel to Switzerland by plane, you need a negative PCR test (not older than 72 hours) and must fill out a travel form provided by the federal government. This does not apply to fully vaccinated persons (the last vaccination may be more than six months ago) and those who have recovered (the illness may not have been more than six months ago). However, a PCR test is not required when leaving Switzerland. Depending on the country and airline, a rapid antigen test is also allowed.

Children under 12 years of age are excluded from the obligation to test when entering the country. This applies to both boarding and the Swiss border. Adolescents between 12 and 16 years of age do not have to show a negative test unless they are traveling from a state that is on the BAG list of risk countries due to a worrying virus variant.

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