Foreigners welcome to Swiss ski lifts if they respect pandemic rules

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss ski lifts are open for foreign visitors as long as they respect the rules that the government has introduced to try and break the momentum of the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Alain Berset said on Friday.

"The government's goal is to keep as much as possible functioning, of course under different conditions as if there were no pandemic," Berset told a news conference when asked about a French ban on British tourists seeking winter fun.

He was speaking after Switzerland said it will expand from Monday the requirement for people to show proof of vaccination or recovery from the coronavirus to access many indoor venues, but stopped short of a stricter lockdown.

People who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 still need to present a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Switzerland, but the government dropped plans to require re-testing days later.

A week before the main winter sports season begins, ski resorts had been waiting to see how the government would handle the situation. Vaccination is not required to ride on lifts, where passengers have to wear masks in enclosed cabins.

Skiers need to present proof of vaccination or recovery to go inside a mountaintop restaurant for a hot soup or drink, but not to lounge on an outside terrace.

Berset said he hoped there would not be any case clusters in the ritzy resorts of Valais canton or the Bernese Oberland.

"We hope we are launching a system that lets people who can show immunity enter Switzerland and go on holiday," he said.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Alison Williams and Gareth Jones)

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