Ambassador McMullen addresses effect of Global Level 4 Health Advisory for Americans in Switzerland and Liechtenstein
U.S. Embassy Bern
March 20, 2020
Good afternoon, fellow Americans in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. I’m reaching out to you in light of the serious situation unfolding across the globe. From Washington, DC to Bern and Vaduz, and beyond, the COVID-19 outbreak is upending daily life. In these extraordinary times, it is the U.S. Embassy’s first priority to ensure the safety and security of U.S. citizens in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. That is why I want to address the State Department’s announcement, yesterday, of a Global Level 4 Health Advisory.
- I will clarify the meaning of this announcement for U.S. citizens currently living or travelling in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and
- I will explain what actions the U.S. government recommends Americans in Switzerland take with regards to returning to the United States.
For personalized answers to individual questions I recommend you visit the embassy website or contact our Consular Section at BernACS@state.gov. Please include your phone number in the email and our excellent consular team, many of whom are working around the clock to provide individualized answers to your questions, will personally call you back.
Let me reiterate that it is my highest priority, and the highest priority of my entire embassy team, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of U.S. citizens in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. We have no greater responsibility than keeping you safe and secure in these extraordinary times. Currently, all of our energy is focused on monitoring the situation in Switzerland and Liechtenstein and responding to your urgent requests for information and guidance on travel, health, and wellbeing.
Last night the U.S. State Department announced a Global Level 4 Health Advisory and in so doing advised that U.S. citizens “avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.” Furthermore, the Department recommends, “in countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.”
As of today, there is only one remaining direct flight route in operation from Switzerland to the United States, the Zurich to Newark route operated by Swiss International Airlines. In practical terms, this means that if you want to return to the United States from Switzerland, you must make arrangements immediately. There is no guarantee that this flight route will remain available. Check with your airline or travel agent to confirm your travel plans before you go to the airport.
Switzerland is part of the Schengen Zone of countries. All of these countries, including our neighbors Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein have put restrictions on who may enter the country. You may not be able to drive to another country to catch a flight. Contact the Embassy if you have questions about these restrictions and your plans.
Stay in touch with the local news and follow the advice of local authorities. We recommend following the updates of the Swiss Secretariat of Migration, the Federal Office Public Health, and the Swiss Federal Police. Links are all available to these on our website. And, sign up for the Smart Traveler notifications and download the Alert Swiss app to get notifications about safety and security events all over Switzerland and Liechtenstein, in real time.
Keep a supply of food and medicine in your house and have a plan if you feel unwell. If the police tell you to stay in, please respect their instructions. For questions about COVID19, we recommend checking the CDC’s website.
Remember, the Embassy is open. Our staffing is limited as we are following the Swiss government’s instructions on telework but we are still open to help American citizens. Contact the Embassy at BernACS@state.gov if you need help – we will call you back. And please, check our website. It is being updated with the latest information every day. Border crossings, health information, travel information, it is all there under the section for “U.S. Citizens.”
Let me close by saying that in these extraordinary times it is the U.S. Embassy’s number one priority to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all U.S. citizens in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. For more details regarding the Global Level 4 Health Advisory, and what it means in individual cases, contact our consular section at BernACS@state.gov for American citizens. For visa issues, please follow the instructions on our website.
These new measures and restrictions are in place for everyone’s safety and everyone remaining in Switzerland and Liechtenstein should follow the respective government’s recommendations. Please remain vigilant in following the best practices and stay positive. This is a serious situation, but as we have seen elsewhere: the virus can be overcome.
Embassy Bern is here for you. Stay well and stay in touch.