CORONAVIRUS UPDATE FROM UK EMBASSY, BERNE

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE FROM UK EMBASSY, BERNE
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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well despite the challenging circumstances we are living through.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued commitment, resilience and the hard work for the British Residents’ Association, an organisation which plays an important role in bringing together some of the over 40,000 Brits living in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. We are grateful for your engagement, especially in times like these.

You may be interested in some background on what the UK is doing in response to current pandemic. We are leading the way in tackling the spread of the virus as one of the biggest donors to the international response. We have already pledged £744 million of UK aid to help end this pandemic as quickly as possible. That includes £250 million towards the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to rapidly develop a coronavirus vaccine. At home in the UK, it has been especially rewarding to see the overwhelming support for our NHS and other essential workers. Over 750,000 volunteers have registered to support the NHS in one of the biggest challenges it has ever faced, and every Thursday our country shows its appreciation by clapping for all the amazing people working tirelessly to keep us all safe and fed.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has been working hard to bring UK nationals home from around the world, where they wished to return. Switzerland has been an important partner through this crisis, not least in helping our repatriation efforts. Switzerland’s ground breaking innovation and life sciences sector is also playing a vital role in the UK’s response, and the Embassy is working with Swiss companies to provide vital equipment, medicines and testing kits to the UK.

As you know, Switzerland has started to loosen its measures against this week, with further steps expected on 11 May and 8 June depending on how the pandemic continues to unfold. Switzerland’s borders remain closed, and you will be only allowed to enter if you are a Swiss national, have a Swiss residence permit or a compelling reason to do so. The UK government continues to advise against all but essential travel to all countries at the moment. If you are planning to travel, make sure to check the latest travel advice. We also recommend to consult the travel advice for Switzerland and for the country you are travelling to. We recommend that UK nationals take out comprehensive travel insurance if they do decide to travel. 

More information on the situation here in Switzerland can be found on the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. We strongly encourage you to follow all health and social distancing guidelines of the Swiss authorities. If you have questions about the UK government’s response to the situation, please check out the following page. For general questions on living here, please consult our Living in Switzerland guide.

While most of the Embassy has to work remotely at the moment, the Embassy is still operating. If you need to visit the Embassy, access is currently by appointment only. If you are a UK national in need of assistance, you can call us +41 31 359 77 00 and choose the option for Consular Assistance. Alternatively you can reach us via our consular contact form.

We at the British Embassy recognise that these are difficult times for all of us and we stand here to support you. I wish you all the best in these unprecedented times.

Best regards,
Bill Longhurst

Deputy Head of Mission and Consul-General
British Embassy Berne