Coronavirus: Isolation and quarantine

People who have tested positive for the coronavirus must go into isolation. People who have had close contact with a person who has tested positive, or who enter Switzerland from a country with an increased risk of infection, must go into quarantine.

Isolation and quarantine

Isolation and quarantine are measures designed to break the chains of infection and thus contain the spread of the new coronavirus. A person with a confirmed or suspected infection must stay at home and avoid all contact with other people. This will prevent the gratest possible number of new infections. Accordingly, the following rules apply:

People who have tested positive for infection with the new coronavirus must go into isolation.

People with an increased likelihood of infection with the new coronavirus must go into quarantine for ten days (subject to certain requirements it is possible to shorten this period). Increased likelihood exists for persons for whom one of the following applies:

  • They have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for the new coronavirus. This is referred to as a quarantine after close contact (contact quarantine for short). Certain people (for example certain people who have been vaccinated) are exempt from the contact quarantine requirement. You will find information in the Exceptions to the quarantine requirement and modified quarantine rules section.
  • They have stayed in a high-risk country or region. This is referred to as a mandatory quarantine for persons arriving in Switzerland (travel quarantine for short). You will find information on this on the Entering Switzerland site.

Read the Instructions on isolation (PDF, 286 kB, 29.12.2020) and instructions on quarantine (PDF, 267 kB, 23.04.2021) for more information.

What to do in the event of symptoms of the disease

It is important for as many cases of infection with the coronavirus to be identified as possible. For this reason we recommend a test even if you have only mild symptoms.The steps below apply to all persons 6 or over. Information on what to do in the case of children under 6 years of age can be found in the section Children with symptoms.

  1. Reduce contact: Stay at home and avoid all contact with other people.

  2. Test: Have a test immediately if you have symptoms or this is recommended by your doctor. The costs of the test will be covered by the Swiss federal government. You’ll find more information on tests and coverage of the costs of tests on the Tests page.

  3. Until the test results are available: Stay at home, follow the instructions on isolation (PDF, 286 kB, 29.12.2020) and avoid all contact with other people until the result of the test is available. Depending on the result, follow the instructions for a positive test result or a negative test result.

What to do in the event of a positive test result: Isolation

Follow the instructions on isolation (PDF, 286 kB, 29.12.2020) and avoid all contact with other people. If you live with other people in the same household, set yourself up in one room on your own. Isolation normally lasts 10 days.

In the ideal case, the cantonal office will inform you when you can end your isolation. If you do not receive any information, your isolation must last at least 10 days. Depending on your state of health, however, it may last longer. You can come out of isolation if at least 10 days have passed and you have had no more symptoms for the last 48 hours. An exception applies if the only symptoms you have are continued loss of sense of smell or taste or a slight cough. These symptoms can take longer to fully disappear. This means you can come out of isolation if you have these symptoms alone.

Further information about isolation:

  • Monitoring your state of health: Contact your doctor if your symptoms of illness worsen or are concerning you. The following symptoms are warning signs: fever or feeling of weakness lasting several days, shortness of breath, severe pressure or pain in the chest, a renewed feeling of confusion, bluish lips or a bluish face.
  • Contact tracing: The cantonal office responsible will contact you. Together you will work out what people you have contact with. These people may have to go into quarantine. Please note: The cantonal office might not be able to contact you promptly. In this case, you yourself should inform your close contacts that you have been infected. You and your contacts will find out how to proceed in such a case in the section on What to do after contact with a person who has tested positive.
  • Covidcode: If you use the SwissCovid App, you can voluntarily enter a Covidcode. This personal code will activate the alert in the app. In this way, you can anonymously inform other users of the contact. You obtain your Covidcode from the cantonal contact tracing office or the doctor treating you. Please note: The cantonal office might not be able to send you a Covidcode straight away. Thank you for your patience in this case.
  • Continued payment of salary and daily sickness benefits: You will find information in the section on Financial entitlements.

What to do in the event of a negative test result

  • If you were not in quarantine when you had the test: Stay at home until you have no longer had symptoms for 24 hours. This is also the recommendation for respiratory diseases such as the flu.

  • If you were in quarantine when you had the test: You many only shorten the 10-day quarantine period if you meet the requirements described in the Shortening quarantine section.

If you experience symptoms again or are worried, contact your doctor.

What to do after contact with a person who has tested positive

Have you had contact with a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus? You may be contagious (able to infect other people) for the next few days without realising. What you should do now depends on whether the person who has tested positive was contagious during the contact and whether the contact was close. To find this out, answer the following questions:

1. Was the person contagious at the time?

Decisive period of time: A person is contagious 2 days before the start of symptoms until 10 days after the start of symptoms. People with a severe form of the illness may be contagious for longer. People without symptoms are contagious in the 48 hours prior to the test and up to 10 days afterwards.

  • If you had contact with this person before this period, infection is unlikely and you do not have to go into quarantine.
  • If you had contact with the person who has tested positive while they were contagious, answer the following question:

2. Was the contact “close”?

“Close contact” is defined as personal contact in the course of which you could have become infected. The longer you had contact with the person who tested positive, the greater the likelihood of infection. If protection was in place, for example a partition, or if you were both wearing a mask and keeping your distance, it does not count as close contact.

Be guided by the following basic rule: The contact was close if you were an insufficient distance from another person for a longer period of time and there was no protection. “A longer period of time” means more than 15 minutes altogether on one day (cumulatively). “Insufficient distance” means less than 1.5 metres away.

Note: The virus naturally doesn’t have a stopwatch. So 15 minutes is merely an approximate point of reference. In confined spaces (such as a car) the contact can be “close” even if it was for a shorter time.


What do you have to do now?

If the person who tested positive was contagious during the contact and the contact was close, follow the instructions in the section on what to do after close contact (quarantine).
Note: Under certain circumstances you do not have to go into quarantine. You’ll find the exceptions below this box.

If the person who tested positive was contagious during the contact but the contact was not close, follow the instructions in the section on what to do after non-close contact.  

Exceptions to the quarantine requirement and modified quarantine rules

The following applies to contact quarantine:

  • If you have been fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine the cantonal office responsible can exempt you from the contact quarantine requirement. This applies for 6 months starting from the 15th day after the second dose of vaccine.
    Since there is not yet any scientific data available on the effects of the vaccines covering a longer period, this exception initially applies for 6 months after a COVID-19 vaccination.

  • If before the contact you already had a confirmed COVID-19-infection, have recovered and have received one dose of an mRNA vaccinee, the cantonal office responsible can exempt you from the contact quarantine requirement. This applies for 6 months starting from the 15th day after the vaccination.
    Since there is not yet any scientific data available on the effects of the vaccines covering a longer period, this exception initially applies for 6 months after a COVID-19 vaccination.

Even if you are exempted from the quarantine requirement: Continue to follow the hygiene and social distancing rules and observe the mask-wearing requirement. This is because on the basis of the current science the vaccination does not completely prevent transmission of the coronavirus.


The following applies to contact and travel quarantine:

  • If during the 3 months before the contact you have already been infected with the coronavirus and have recovered, you do not have to go into quarantine. You’ll find more information on this in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

  • Other rules may apply if you work in healthcare or in public security and order. Healthcare personnel will find more information on the Information for healthcare personnel (in German, French or Italian) site.

What to do after close contact: Quarantine

Go into quarantine immediately and following the instructions on quarantine (PDF, 267 kB, 23.04.2021). Basically this means avoiding all contact, even with people who live in your household. If you still do not have symptoms 10 days after the close contact, you may come out of quarantine. Under certain circumstances you can come out of quarantine early from day 7 onwards. You will find information on this in the Shortening quarantine section.

Further information about quarantine:  

  • Contact tracing: Quarantine arrangements as part of contact tracing are the responsibility of the cantons. It is thus the cantonal authorities that decide whether you have to go into quarantine.

  • Onset of symptoms: If you start getting symptoms during quarantine, follow the instructions in the section on what to do in the event of symptoms.

  • Tests: The cantonal office or a doctor can order a test in connection with quarantine or an outbreak investigation. The costs of the test will be covered.

Shortening quarantine

You can come out of quarantine early from day 7 onwards provided you meet the following conditions:

  • You have a test (PCR or rapid antigen test) from day 7 of your quarantine and the result is negative. This test is free of charge.

  • You present the negative test result to the competent cantonal office. You also receive permission to shorten your quarantine from the cantonal office. Find out from your cantonal office how you have to present the results of the test and how permission is granted.

Do you meet these requirements? Then you can shorten your quarantine. However, until the original quarantine period has ended (in other words until day 10) you must wear a mask outside your home or accommodation and always maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.

Note: If your have a test from day 7 onwards and the result is positive you must remain in quarantine for another 10 days. In this case follow the instructions on the What to do in the event of a positive test result section.

What to do after non-close contact

In this situation, the likelihood that you have become infected is lower than after close contact. For this reason you do not have to go into quarantine. Nevertheless, it is important to exercise caution. If you have become infected, the first symptoms will in most cases appear within 10 days of contact with the infected person. During this time the following applies:

  • Strictly follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing.
  • Keep an eye on your state of health. If you start experiencing disease symptoms: Stay at home and follow the instructions on what to do in the event of symptoms of the disease.
  • Protect your family, friends and other people by avoiding unnecessary contact.
  • If your personal and work circumstances permit you can go into quarantine yourself and work from home.
  • If you cannot work from home, it’s particularly important for you to observe the distancing and hygiene rules by avoiding contact, keeping your distance and wearing a mask if you cannot stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people.

Alert from the SwissCovid App

Have you received an alert (warning) from the SwissCovid App that you have been in contact with an infected person? Please call the specified infoline voluntarily. The infoline will discuss with you the likelihood you have been infected and what to do next.  

Children with symptoms and possible infection

Starting 24 March 2021, the same procedure applies for children from age 6 as for young people and adults, and they will be tested in accordance with the same criteria. If your child is aged 6 or over, the information in the section on What to do in the event of symptoms of the disease applies to your child. The steps outlined below apply to children under age 6.

Symptoms after close contact with a symptomatic person

If your child has symptoms of a possible infection with the coronavirus and has had close contact with a symptomatic person (child aged 6 or over or an adult), what you should do depends on the test result of the close contact:

  • If the contact’s test result is positive: Your child must stay at home and will be tested. Your paediatrician will provide you with information on how to proceed.
  • If the contact’s test result is negative: Your child may only return to his or her school or childcare facility following a period of 24 hours during which he or she no longer exhibits fever or if his or her cough has significantly improved.  

Symptoms without close contact with a symptomatic person

If your child has symptoms of a possible infection with the new coronavirus and has not had close contact with a symptomatic person (child aged 6 or over or an adult), what you should do depends on your child’s symptoms and health:

  • Your child has mild cold symptoms (sniffles and/or a sore throat and/or a slight cough) and is in good general health: Your child may continue to attend his or her school or childcare facility.
  • Your child has a fever and is in good general health: Your child must stay at home and may only return to his or her school or childcare facility following a period of 24 hours during which he or she no longer exhibits fever. Contact your paediatrician if your child's fever persists for three days or more.
    If your child has other symptoms (gastrointestinal complaints, headache, aching limbs, loss of sense of taste or smell), discuss what to do with the paediatrician.
  • Your child has a severe cough and is in good general health: Your child must stay at home and may only return to his or her school or childcare facility if the cough has improved significantly within three days. Contact your paediatrician if your child's severe cough persists for more than three days.
    If your child has other symptoms (gastrointestinal complaints, headache, aching limbs, loss of sense of taste or smell), discuss what to do with the paediatrician.
  • Your child has a fever or severe cough and/or is in poor general health: Contact the paediatrician directly to discuss what to do.

When three or more children exhibit symptoms in a school class/childcare group and the cantonal offices have been informed accordingly, they will determine the next steps for the children in consultation with the attending paediatricians.

Material to help you better understand what to do

  • Online questionnaire from the Inselspital hospital: Go to coronabambini.ch and answer the questions on your child’s state of health. At the end you’ll be given recommendations on whether your child should stay at home and whether a test is necessary.

What to do after a test

If your child has been tested, what to do next depends on the result of the test.

If your child tests positive it must stay at home in isolation. Basically the rules on isolation also apply to children. In isolation your child may not have contact with people outside your household. If your child is in isolation, contact with other members of the household should be reduced as far as possible. The precise form isolation takes in practice depends on the age of your child and your living arrangements. You’ll find all the relevant information on isolation in the section on What to do in the event of a positive test result: Isolation.

If a child under 6 tests negative it may return to school immediately. If your child had a fever, however, they must be fever-free for a period of 24 hours before being allowed to go back to school. If your child had a severe cough, there must be a significant improvement in the cough before they are allowed to return.

Financial entitlements in the event of isolation/quarantine

If you have to go into isolation because you have the coronavirus disease and have been signed off work by a doctor, you are entitled to continued payment of your salary or to daily sickness benefits. The continued payment of salary is governed by the Swiss Code of Obligations. This obliges your employer to keep paying you for at least three weeks. Many employers take out insurance so that employees who are absent for longer periods receive daily sickness benefits covering 80 percent of their pay. Check with your employer and your employment contract to find out what arrangements apply to you. If you are self-employed, your entitlement to financial compensation will depend on whether you have taken out daily sickness benefit insurance.

If you have to go into quarantine because you have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive, you are entitled to compensation for loss of earnings. You have this entitlement if quarantine was ordered by a cantonal office or a doctor. You can submit your claim for compensation to the compensation office to which your employer or you yourself, if you are self-employed, are affiliated. Use the application form provided by your compensation office. Note: It may be that the cantonal office cannot order quarantine. In this case you can still fill in the application form in any case. Mention on the form that you were not contacted by the cantonal office.

You will find more information on compensation for loss of earnings (in German, French and Italian) on the website of the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO).

You will find the rules on quarantine for people entering the country on the page Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Medical certificate

Talk to your employer about when you need to present a medical certificate. In the current situation, we recommend employers are accommodating when it comes to demanding medical certificates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answers to frequently asked questions concerning isolation and quarantine can be found here.

Further information

Disease, symptoms, treatment

Information on Covid-19, the symptoms and the range of illness severity as well as the origin of the new coronavirus

Last modification 23.04.2021

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