Certificate requirement - new requirements from 13 september 2021

We answer questions about the new regulations regarding the certificate requirement issued by the Federal Council on 09 September 2021.

The answer in detail

What is the certificate requirement? 

The COVID certificate provides documentary evidence that you have had a COVID-19 vaccination, have had and recovered from the disease, or have tested negative (Rule: vaccinated, recovered, tested; GGG geimpft, genesen, getestet). On September 8, 2021, the Federal Council ordered a certificate requirement for various areas from September 13, 2021. This applies for everyone 16 years of age and older and stipulates that entering indoor spaces of various businesses and other facilities is no longer allowed without a certificate.

Where is the certificate requirement in effect?

It applies for restaurants and bars, cultural and leisure facilities, concert halls, theaters, cinemas, fitness centers, sports events, museums, libraries, zoos, climbing halls, indoor pools, water parks, billiard halls, and casinos. The cantons and universities as well as employers can introduce a certificate requirement.

When can an employer introduce a certificate requirement?

The federal government has not instituted a certificate requirement for places of work and training institutions (including cafeterias). Even employees who work for a company that has a certificate requirement do not need a certificate. However, the federal government allows companies to check whether their employees hold a certificate “if this is necessary for deciding on appropriate precautionary measures or for implementing testing concepts.”
Conclusion: Employers may, in certain circumstances and after consulting with employees, integrate the certificate into their protection concept. Thus employers can now require evidence (a certificate) and tie this to consequences. For example, a restaurant manager can decide that service staff who don’t have a certificate must wear a mask or a company may make working from home available only to employees who don’t have a certificate.

Do employees of a company with a certificate requirement also have to have a certificate, i.e. the service staff of a restaurant?

No. However, a company can require employees to present a certificate as part of its duty of care (in hospitals, for example).
It may check whether its employees have a certificate if this is necessary for deciding on suitable precautionary measures or the implementation of a testing concept. This may be the case if employees work in close quarters inside (large butcher), but not necessarily outside (e.g. gardening).

Are there exceptions to the certificate requirement?

Yes. The certificate requirement does not apply for outside areas or for transit restaurants in airports, for hair salons, or for therapeutic or counseling services. Religious events and political rallies up to 50 people are also excluded from the requirement. There is also no requirement for events between family or friends in premises not accessible to the public up to a maximum of 30 people. No certificate requirement applies to overnight stays in a hotel, but the requirement is in effect for hotel bars and restaurants. Shops that sell daily necessities must also be accessible without a certificate, with the same applying to public transportation.  

Can I cancel my gym membership due to the certificate requirement?

This will most likely not be possible since unlike the lockdown, gyms and fitness centers can still perform their services and only the access conditions are more difficult for objective reasons. However, there are no court rulings on the matter. 

How much does the certificate cost?

The certificate is free of charge. The vaccination is also free of charge. From October 1, 2021, you must pay for tests to receive the certificate yourself.

Do I have to pay for tests my employer makes me take?

If an employer orders test for its employees, the company must bear the costs.

Where can I get a certificate?

The certificate can be obtained either at vaccination centers, medical practices, hospitals, pharmacies, test centers, labs, or cantonal authorities, or directly via the “COVID Certificate app.”

Can I be forced to get a certificate?

No one can be forced against their will to get vaccinated or to take a test. However, visitors who do not comply with the requirement risk a fine of CHF 100. The operators must also expect a high fine (up to CHF 10,000) and even a closure of the facility. 

What applies for the mask requirement?

The mask requirement, minimum distance, and contact tracing are repealed where the certificate requirement applies.

Is unequal treatment of vaccinated and unvaccinated employees in a company allowed?

In companies, the question can arise as to whether vaccinated and unvaccinated employees can be treated differently. For example, it is conceivable that only vaccinated employees are granted access to the company cafeteria. Such unequal treatment is disputed in theory since it can be problematic to further limit unvaccinated persons, but unequal treatment bears the risk of stigmatizing unvaccinated people and of unjustified discrimination.
Each case must therefore be reviewed individually regarding whether unequal treatment is objectively justified.

Are employers allowed to provide incentives for getting vaccinated?

In Switzerland, such incentives are generally possible and allowed. In individual cases, however, it is recommended to clarify in advance the provision of such premiums with regard to labor and tax law. Especially with a view to persons who cannot or do not wish to be vaccinated for certain reasons and who would be discriminated as a result.

How long do the adopted measures apply for?

The measures will apply until January 24, 2022, at the latest, but can be repealed before that if the situation significantly improves.