Anyone who has crossed the Swiss border in the past few days may be surprised by incorrect orders. The Federal Office of Public Health does not know what caused the error.
The short message begins with “Dear guest,” but gets thick: The dear guest must immediately go into a ten-day quarantine, because you “came from a country with a worrying type (of coronavirus).” In addition, PCR testing should be performed between the fourth and seventh day of stay in Switzerland. Anyone who does not comply with this law “can be fined up to 10,000 Swiss francs”.
Indeed, on November 30, the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) expanded the list of those countries in which the “virus variant of concern” – that is, omicron – occurs particularly frequently. In addition to several African countries, Canada, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Great Britain are now also on the list. Anyone coming from one of these 23 countries must remain in quarantine for ten days. Even if he was vaccinated or recovered.
More than 3300 text messages in one day
Of course: travelers from other countries not on the list received the quarantine order sent by BAG via SMS on Wednesday. For example from Austria, which now has much fewer infections than Switzerland. There are no stricter rules for the neighboring country. You must register online, but you can enter the country tested, vaccinated or recovered without any additional quarantine or PCR tests.
However, SMS messages containing the quarantine order were also sent to people from non-high-risk countries. This caused great confusion and uncertainty among those affected. The BAG phone hotline was temporarily loaded Thursday morning. Waiting time was up to 30 minutes.
Anyone who made it to the line received an apology from the other end of the line: Unfortunately, an error occurred, the cause of which is not yet known. Yes, many travelers are affected. Anyway, the SMS is wrong, please ignore it, and reassure the woman on the BAG hotline. The quarantine rule does not apply to anyone who does not come from a high-risk country.
BAG . media office NSAnn more from 3300 confirmed text messages for thisNS wednesday pmHe. She to me a call to me quarantine sent. But they are only for travelersorng «Included in the list of countries at risk» The media spokesperson responds upon request. One cannot investigate further.
Bernard O’Dehnall She works as a freelancer in the Tamedia Research Office. He studied Slavic studies and was until 2017 the daily correspondent for Austria and Eastern Europe. He has authored several books and won the Zurich Journalism Prize among others.