How to protect yourself and others

Test, trace, isolate and quarantine

The new Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine rules are designed to identify and break the chain of infection from person to person. According to our current state of knowledge, this is the most effective way to control and further curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

But you must continue to follow the hygiene and social distancing rules. This is the best way to protect yourself and others from infection.


Identifying infection early on: Do you feel ill, or are you experiencing particular symptoms? Stay at home, do the coronavirus check, or call your doctor on the phone. Answer all the questions in the online check or on the phone as well as you can. At the end you’ll receive a recommendation on what to do next and, as appropriate, instructions to have a test. Stay at home until the results of the test are available.

These recommendations also apply if you have only mild symptoms. This is because infected people are contagious even if they feel well.

You’ll find details of the typical symptoms here: link


Identifying chains of infection: If the coronavirus test indicates an infection, the cantonal authorities consult with the person affected to work out who they had close contact with up to two days before the symptoms of the disease appeared. Then the authorities will notify these close contacts of the possibility that they might be infected, and what to do next. This process is called contact tracing.

If possible you should leave your contact details if you go to a restaurant or take part in public events or activities. This will enable the cantonal authorities to trace chains of infection. For example, if a waiter who served you in a restaurant the day before contracts the disease, the cantonal authorities will be able to inform you on the basis of the list of guests.

Shortly the SwissCovid App for smartphones will be available to augment classic contact tracing. It will tell you if you’re in close contact with a person with the disease, even if you don’t know them personally. You’ll find more information on contact tracing and the app here: link

Isolate and quarantine

Breaking chains of infection: If the coronavirus test is positive or you have had close contact with an infected person, you must go into isolation or quarantine to prevent the further spread of the virus. The cantonal authority will contact you and inform you about what to do. You’ll find more information here: link

Our recommendation: Keep at least 2 metres away from other people whenever possible. This also applies, for example, when you take part in an event: If you strictly follow the social distancing and hygiene rules during the event, you won’t need to go into quarantine if an (unknowingly) infected person has attended the same event. This is because the risk of infection is much lower in this case.

Rules on hygiene and social distancing

Keep your distance

You can be infected with the new coronavirus if you have had close, prolonged contact with an infected person. By keeping the necessary distance (2 metres), you protect yourself and others from infection:

  • When standing in line (for example in the supermarket or canteen), keep your distance from the people in front of and behind you.
  • At meetings: leave a chair free between participants.
  • Protect people at especially high risk around you by keeping your distance.
  • Observe the rules for visitors to old people’s homes, care homes and hospitals.

Keep your distance on public transport
When using public transport, we strongly recommend you wear a face mask if it is not possible to maintain a distance of 2 metres from other passengers. Try to avoid travelling during the morning and evening rush hours, and use less popular routes, especially if you are travelling for leisure.

If you can’t keep your distance, wear a mask

You don’t have to wear a hygiene mask in public spaces. But we do recommend wearing a mask in the following situations:

  • If you can’t maintain a distance of 2 metres from others, for example on public transport.
  • If you’re using a service or attending an event where the precautionary measures specify wearing a mask.

Wash your hands thoroughly

Handwashing is of crucial importance when it comes to hygiene. You can protect yourself from infection by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water. Soap renders the virus harmless.

Wash your hands every time you come home, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and before preparing food.

You wash your hands properly by wetting your hands, soaping and rubbing them together until you get a lather. Rinse your hands thoroughly with running water. Dry your hands with a clean towel, if possible a disposable paper towel or a cloth roller towel.  

You should also bear in mind that it’s best not to wear any rings, or to take them off before washing your hands and clean them with soap as well. Use cream to moisturise your skin, and keep your fingernails short and clean.

Avoid shaking hands

Depending on what you have just touched, your hands are not clean. Infectious droplets from coughs or sneezes can get onto your hands. They can then get into your system if you touch your mouth, nose or eyes. It’s therefore important not to shake hands. You can also protect yourself from infection by:

  • Not shaking hands.
  • Avoid kissing to greet people.
  • Not touching your nose, mouth and eyes.

Rubber gloves are not an alternative

The FOPH does not recommend wearing gloves for day-to-day activities. They do not provide protection against infection and risk giving you a false sense of security.

Cough and sneeze into a paper tissue or the crook of your arm

Blowing your nose, sneezing, spitting and coughing can all spread viruses if you don’t follow the rules.

How can I reduce or avoid the risk of spreading the virus?

  • Cough or sneeze into a paper tissue, or if you don’t have a tissue into the crook of your arm
  • Wash your hands afterwards every time you cough, sneeze, spit or blow your nose.
  • Use a paper tissue, and use it only once. Then dispose of it.

Always call ahead before going to the doctor’s or the emergency department

If you have to go to the doctor’s or an emergency department because of symptoms associated with the new coronavirus, you must phone ahead.

If you are feeling unwell, experiencing health complaints or symptoms not associated with the new coronavirus:

Take it seriously and get treatment. Seek assistance and don’t wait too long. Call a doctor.

Continue to work from home if possible

Employers decide whether their employees are to return to work on premises. Continue to work from home if possible. This helps curb the possible spread of the virus by reducing contact with other people. Employers must put precautionary measures in place to ensure that everyone working on premises can observe the hygiene and social distancing rules.

Employers must protect people at especially high risk (vulnerable people). You will find information on this on the Federal government measures site (link).

Protect yourself