Ski holidays have been thrown into chaos amid confusion over the impact of Switzerland’s decision to impose a 10-day quarantine.
Holidaymakers were frantically trying to rearrange flights amid fears that travellers attempting to travel through Switzerland to resorts in France could be caught by the new quarantine rules.
Under the rules, all UK visitors arriving and staying in Switzerland will have to show both a negative PCR test result, taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, and self-isolate for 10 days.
This is because the UK is on the country’s list of nations with a “variant of concern”, following the detection of multiple cases of the omicron variant of Covid-19.
It means that winter holidays to ski resorts in the Swiss Alps will be wiped out by the mandatory quarantine, but it has also caused uncertainty for transiting skiers who want to travel on to resorts in France.
A Swiss government directive, issued on Monday, stated there would be exemptions for people “who enter Switzerland for the purpose of transiting the country and who intend and are able to travel on directly to another country”.
However, there was conflicting advice over the weekend from Swiss authorities, with some travellers allowed to pass through Gevena airport en route to ski resorts in France and Italy, and on Monday the Swiss tourist board suggested quarantine exceptions would only apply if travellers transit ‘airside’ at airport, meaning they change planes at Geneva travelling to another country without passing through Swiss border control.
Travel industry braced for huge impact of rule change
Estelle Giraudeau, managing director, UK and Northern Europe at Club Med, said: “For those with flights booked to and from Geneva, we are working through holidays with the nearest departure date to arrange alternative flights to French airports.”
Rob McIntosh, managing director of Interski, said his customers had experienced mixed results this week, with some sent back home on the same plane, while others were able to transit.
“It feels like a stranglehold getting tighter. The travel industry was the first industry to be affected and we are carrying on with this situation with everything thrown against us,” he said.
Harriet Thorpe, from Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, who was flying to Val D’Isere, for a sign off meeting with French builders on their chalet, said: “There were no flights to Lyon, so we decided not to go.
“From anecdotes we heard, transferring through was not a good enough reason to enter Switzerland.”