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 a variant of concern, must go into quarantine.

What are 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 greatest 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 are exempt from the contact quarantine requirement. You will find information in the I have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID. Do I have to go into quarantine? section.
  • They have stayed in a country or region with a variant of concern. 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, 275 kB, 29.12.2020) and instructions on quarantine (PDF, 343 kB, 01.07.2021) for more information.

I have symptoms. What should I do?

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

  2. Have a test immediately if you have symptoms or this is recommended by your doctor. If you have symptoms have a test even if you have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID. It’s important for as many cases of infection with the coronavirus to be identified as possible. For this reason we also recommend a test if you have only minor symptoms. The costs of the test will be covered by the Swiss federal government. You’ll find more information on the Tests page.

  3. Until you get your test results stay at home and follow the instructions on isolation (PDF, 275 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.

I have received a positive test result. What do I do next?

Go into isolation immediately. Follow the instructions on isolation (PDF, 275 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.

I have received a negative test result. What do I do next?

  • 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.

  • 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.

I have had contact with a person who has tested positive. What should I do?

Answer the questions below. This is necessary because after 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.

Note: This section is geared to adults and children who have had contact with a person who has tested positive.  

1. Have you been fully vaccinated, or have you recovered from COVID?

Read the section I have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID. Do I have to go into quarantine? to find out whether you’re exempt from the quarantine requirement. Do you meet the requirements? In this case you don’t have to do anything else. Do you not meet the requirements? Then go to question 2.

2. Was the person contagious when the contact occurred?

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.

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

3. 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?

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).

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.  

I have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID. Do I have to go into quarantine?

Under certain circumstances you do not have to go into quarantine. Below you will find a list of the exceptions. These exceptions only apply to the contact quarantine. To find out about what exemptions and rules apply to the travel quarantine, please see the page Entering Switzerland.

  • You had coronavirus and recovered before the contact: You do not need to quarantine. This applies for six months from the 11th day after the infection was confirmed. You don’t need to automatically inform the authorities either. However, you do need proof that you have had coronavirus within the last six months and recovered.
  • You are fully vaccinated: You don’t need to quarantine for 12 months from the time that you were fully vaccinated. You don’t need to automatically inform the authorities, but you do need a vaccination certificate. The cantonal authorities may request such a certificate as part of contact tracing. You will find information on what ‘fully vaccinated’ means on the page Vaccination.

Despite exemption 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, recovering from COVID-19 or being vaccinated does not completely prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

What to do after close contact: Quarantine

Go into quarantine immediately and following the instructions on quarantine (PDF, 343 kB, 01.07.2021). 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 I have symptoms. What should I do?

  • 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.
  • Vaccination: After quarantine, consider having a COVID-19 vaccination if you have not already done so.  

Modified quarantine rules

In the following cases, different rules may apply to quarantine:

  • You work in a business that is carrying out targeted repeat testing: You may be exempted from the quarantine requirement for contact that takes place at work or on the way to work. Please note: the quarantine requirement still applies for contact in all non-work settings. For information on the quarantine exemption due to repeat testing, please contact your cantonal authority.

  • You are a key worker in a field where there are acute staff shortages: You may be exempt from the quarantine requirement for contact that takes place at work or on your way to work. Please note: the quarantine requirement still applies for contact in all non-work settings. More information is available from the competent cantonal authority. Healthcare workers ill find more information on the page Information for healthcare personnel (in German, French or Italian) site.

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 you 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 in the section I have received a positive test result. What do I do next?

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 under I have symptoms. What should I do?
  • 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.  

My child has symptoms. What should we do?

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 I have symptoms. What should I do? applies to your child.  

The following applies to children under age 6.

The Inselspital hospital provides an online questionnaire to help you better understand what to do.  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 financial compensation do I receive in the event of isolation or 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 08.07.2021

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Infoline Coronavirus
Tel. +41 58 463 00 00

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