FAQ for Staff

Status: 9 July 2021

Behavior in handling Covid-19 infections:

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Typical symptoms of a mild Covid-19 infection include fever, dry coughing, tiredness, aching limbs, a sore throat and loss of taste or smell. If you experience these symptoms while you are at work at UZH, you should go home immediately, self-isolate, inform your line manager and contact your family doctor or the canton’s medical hotline (0800 33 66 55).
Detailed information on how to treat Covid-19 infections

I feel ill and think I may have caught the coronavirus. What should I do?

You are experiencing symptoms of an acute respiratory illness1 or have suddenly lost your sense of smell and/or taste, which may be caused by the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). You must isolate at home immediately to avoid infecting other people. You should also get tested. Take the coronavirus check2 and contact your family doctor or phone the Ärztefon on 0800 33 66 55. If you test positive for COVID-19, the cantonal medical service will contact you and give you further information and instructions (e.g. contact tracing). You should also inform your line manager.
Fact Sheet for UZH Staff: Procedure for COVID-19 Infections
FOPH: Instructions on Isolation
FOPH: Coronavirus check

1e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath with or without a temperature, feverishness, achiness
2Important notice: The coronavirus check is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The symptoms described in the check may also occur in relation to other diseases requiring different measures. Always consult a doctor if you have obvious symptoms that get worse or worry you.

I have been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed case of coronavirus infection. What should I do?

If you have had close contact with someone who has a Covid-19 infection confirmed by a laboratory test and who was infectious1 while you were in contact, you must confine yourself in quarantine at home for 10 days. Close contact means that you have been in close proximity (distance of less than 1.5 meters) to someone infected with coronavirus for more than 15 minutes without any form of protection. If this person was infectious1, you must quarantine at home for 10 days. The cantonal medical service will contact you and give you more information and instructions on what to do (e.g. contact tracing). You should also inform your line manager of the situation.
Fact Sheet for UZH Staff: Procedure for COVID-19 Infections
FOPH: Instructions on Quarantine

1A person is infectious while showing symptoms and up to 48 hours beforehand.

What possibilities are there at UZH for coronavirus tests?

Repetitive testing: Repetitive testing is possible for UZH organizational units under certain conditions. Further information can be found in the directive on repetitive testing (PDF, 41 KB).

Individual testing: Individual testing: A test center is available at Campus Irchel.
Onedoc: Test Center Irchel (in German)

Please note the federal and cantonal recommendations regarding self-tests, rapid antigen tests and PCR tests. The FOPH website has an overview of the different types of tests.

Where can I get tested for Covid-19 (PCR test)?

Various test centers are available for Covid-19 testing.

Some corona test centers offer antibody tests. According to experts, the significance of the test results is still unclear.

What do I have to do if my test result is negative?

Employees who get tested for Covid-19 and whose test comes back negative must stay at home until 24 hours after the symptoms have subsided. They must also inform their line managers.
Detailed information on how to treat Covid-19 infections

What should I do if my test result is positive?

Employees who test positive for Covid-19 are required to follow the instructions of their doctor. Since contact tracing is often overburdened, the affected employees should immediately contact the people with whom they have come into close contact (distance of less than 1.5 meters for more than 15 minutes) in the past two days – in private or at UZH.

Their line manager, with the approval of the infected employee, must inform the rest of the team as well as UZH’s Occupational Medicine/Safety, Security and Environment office. In addition, each faculty will follow their own protocols on how to communicate cases of infection with Covid-19 in-house. The Occupational Medicine/Safety, Security and Environment office will submit a report on the cases (which are made anonymous) for each faculty and site to the Executive Board of the University as well as the coronavirus task force. 

Infected employees may only return to their workplace if they have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours and if at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first occurred. This also applies to people who do not get tested for Covid-19.
Detailed information on how to treat Covid-19 infections

What should I do if I have had close contact with people who have tested positive for Covid-19?

Employees who have come into close contact with someone infected with Covid-19 must leave their UZH workplace without delay. If you have come into close contact with an infected person outside of work, you must stay at home. In both cases, you are required to inform your line manager, self-quarantine for 10 days and get in touch with your doctor as soon as you experience symptoms. If you don’t experience any symptoms, you can continue to work from your home.

Detailed information on how to treat Covid-19 infections

What happens if am ordered to stay at home and self-isolate as a result of contact tracing. Do I have to continue to work when I'm in quarantine?

If the cantonal medical service orders you to go into quarantine, you must stay at home. Quarantining doesn’t necessarily mean you are unfit for work. Depending on your health, it may be possible for you to continue to work while quarantining, and this is also expected by UZH as your employer if your role allows you to work from home or if other tasks that can be carried out remotely can be assigned to you. If you are unable to work, you are entitled to paid leave.

With regard to doctor’s notes, the general provisions of employment law apply (i.e. a doctor’s note must be submitted in the event of incapacity to work for one week or more), although a cantonal medical order can currently be submitted instead of a doctor’s note. If you are able to complete all of your tasks from home, it is assumed that you are fit to work and a doctor’s note is not required. In this case, no days of continued pay are deducted from the continued pay quota.

What do I have to consider when travelling to a country that requires a negative Covid 19 test?

Travel regulations can vary greatly depending on the country and part of the country or region. Please inform yourself in good time about the exact regulations of your travel destination. These can change quickly.

For example, many federal states (Bundesländer) require a negative covid 19 test when entering Germany from a risk area. In some federal states, quarantine can be omitted if a negative test is presented on entry that is not older than 48 hours. Depending on the federal state, the 48 hours are counted from the swab or the test result. In Baden-Württemberg, the date on the certificate counts. In Bavaria, on the other hand, the date of the swab counts. Useful information for travellers:
Coronavirus: Entry/return travel update (in German)

I have the SwissCovid app and it has told me to go into voluntary self-quarantine. How will my absence from work be dealt with?

The use of the SwissCovid app is voluntary and may not be ordered by the employer. UZH welcomes the use of the SwissCovid app. Employees who wish to voluntarily enter quarantine as a result of a report from the app are not entitled to paid leave. However, with the approval of their line managers they can work from home until the test results are available (which usually takes one to two days). Employees who are unable to work from home due to business operations are asked to get in touch with the relevant HR consultant in Human Resources, either directly or through their line manager. In any case, employees may also use vacation or surplus hours. The relevant HR consultants are on hand to provide advice.
Fact Sheet SwissCovid App
HR Consulting

Obligation to Wear Masks:

Where do I have to wear a mask?

Masks are mandatory in all publicly accessible indoor rooms at UZH, as well as in all classrooms during on-site seminars or lectures. This explicitly also applies to workspaces for independent study for which registration is not required.

Children under the age of 12 are exempted from wearing a mask.

Do I have to wear a mask even though I am vaccinated, have recovered from a Covid-19 infection or have tested negative?

Yes. You must wear the mask even if you are vaccinated, have recovered from an infection or tested negative. 

What is the mask-wearing requirement based on?

For details regarding the general obligation to wear mask, please refer to the provisions and comments of the FOTH.
Website FOPH: Masks

For details on the specific provisions applicable at UZH, please refer to the relevant directive and detail provisions.
Detailed Provisions on the Directive Adapted On-Site Operations (in German) (in German)

The provisions concerning the obligation to wear masks apply to all people who are on the premises or in the buildings of UZH.
FAQ on Mask-Wearing

Do rubbish bins with lids have to be used for the disposal of masks?

No. It can be assumed that no one is going to rummage through the rubbish.
Cleaning personnel wear personal protective equipment when changing the waste bags.

Will the masks be disposed of separately?

No, these can be disposed of with the normal household waste.

Travelling abroad:

I have to go abroad for work. Can I still go?

Work-related international travel and stays abroad on behalf of UZH are generally permitted by the Executive Board of the University provided the relevant travel recommendations of the FDFA, the provisions issued by transport companies as well as the general rules of hygiene and social distancing can be observed. People considering work-related trips should continue to proceed with caution and keep an eye on the changing situation. With regard to a possible quarantine obligation after re-entry into Switzerland, the relevant regulations must be observed.
FOPH: Foreign Travel

I am traveling to a high-risk country that was already deemed high-risk upon my departure. May I travel there and am I entitled to salary payments while I quarantine?

Employees with relevant travel plans are obliged to inform their employer, as the quarantine obligation after a stay in a high-risk country could lead to a situation where an important service for UZH can no longer be adequately provided if personnel resources are very scarce. Employees and line managers alike are asked to make prudent decisions and find a mutual solution that is acceptable to both parties. Insofar as working from home is possible, line managers will decide whether this is a feasible solution taking into account the need for on-site operations. If employees cannot work from home, they must compensate for the missed working time in consultation with their line managers by reducing accumulated hours, accumulating minus hours or taking unpaid leave. The Human Resources Office is available to provide advice.

If, due to operational circumstances, a quarantine would lead to serious staff shortages, such trips may be prohibited. In this case, Human Resources must be involved in the decision.

If the trip is undertaken contrary to the employer’s instructions and the employee has to go into quarantine as a result, there is no entitlement to salary payments. In addition, measures under employment law may be taken, up to and including termination of the employment relationship. If employees become infected in the high-risk country and are unable to work due to illness, their salary payments may also be reduced.
UZH: HR Consultants

I am returning from a high-risk country that wasn’t yet deemed high-risk when I left Switzerland. What should I do?

In this case, the consequences (10-day quarantine) were not known upon the employee’s departure. If the employee’s usual duties can be performed remotely, they and their line managers can agree that they will work from home. If the employee’s work cannot be done remotely, line managers should check whether other tasks that can be carried out remotely can be assigned. If this is not possible, the employee must stay at home by order of the employer and will continue to receive their salary. The Human Resources Office is available to provide advice.
UZH: HR Consultants

Infrastructure and Buildings:

Which protective equipment is available in UZH buildings?

UZH has set up hand disinfectant stations at the main entrances of its properties/buildings. These stations will be managed by Facility Management. People may wash their hands in the public toilet facilities.

If a building doesn’t belong to UZH, but we have our offices in it – how does the safety concept work there, e.g. for entrance areas and lifts used by external persons?

In buildings where UZH is a tenant (e.g. AND, AFL or Schlieren Campus), the safety concept for public areas is developed, communicated and implemented by the relevant administration.  The same rules apply to all parties that are renting space in that building, and protective agents are provided in a centralized and uniform way (e.g. disinfectants in front of lifts). Within our own rooms, the relevant organizational unit is responsible for developing and implementing the specific safety concept. The Safety, Security and Environment Office and Facility Management are on hand to provide advice.

Will there be checks to make sure that safety measures are adhered to inside buildings? Who is responsible?

Following the measures described in the safety concept is the responsibility of management/leadership as well as of each employee (individual responsibility). The relevant managers/leaders can and should check that the measures are adhered to. In public areas (e.g. waiting areas in front of cafeterias) or at the designated study spaces, UZH reserves the right to carry out spot checks and dismiss people who don’t follow UZH’s rules of hygiene and conduct.

Will cleaning services come by more frequently as a precaution against coronavirus?

The frequency and scope of cleaning will be the same as before the pandemic in accordance with the relevant cleaning standards (“Leistungen Service Level BDI/BDZ”).

In addition, however, special attention will now be paid to objects and surfaces that are touched frequently in shared rooms. Users are responsible for any additional cleaning. Cleaning agents are available from UZH’s Procurement and Logistics office.

Will additional cleaning materials be made available for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces?

Using an all-purpose cleaning agent will generally suffice. Only where this is not possible, 70% alcohol or something similar can be used to clean small surfaces such as buttons on the copier, shared keyboards, etc. The relevant cleaning sets are available from UZH’s Procurement and Logistics office.

Do I need to clean the desks in lecture halls and seminar rooms myself after using them?

There are dispensers with disinfectant wipes at the entrance of lecture halls and seminar rooms used for general teaching which users can take to clean surfaces. Offices of the Deans, institutes, departments, etc. can obtain disinfectant and cleaning materials for use in their own lecture halls and seminar rooms from the UZH department Materials and Logistics (Material und Logistik). The Offices of the Deans, institutes and departments are responsible for procurement and management.
Material und Logistik (in German)

Does the UZH provide parking spaces free of charge?

No. The parking regulations of the University of Zurich apply. All parking spaces are subject to approval and fees. Parking spaces near City Campus are few and far between and waiting lists may be kept.
Parking Spaces

Will UZH equip its toilet facilities with touchless water taps?

UZH will keep the existing hand washing stations. Non-contact hand washing stations cannot be installed everywhere and require enormous investments.

We need more space to comply with social distancing measures during meetings. Can unused rooms be booked during the semester break?

Yes, please submit your request to Room Allocation Services:
Room Allocation Services

I work at a service desk or as support staff – what should I do now?

Working at a service desk often involves frequent and close contact with other people. The following rules can help to reduce the risk of transmission of diseases. In the first instance, check whether it is really necessary to provide the service or information in person, or if you can provide it online or on the phone. If this is not possible, we recommend the following measures:

  • Inform your customers about the applicable rules and measures by putting up an FOPH poster. You can download these and print them off yourselves, or order them from the Safety, Security and Environment Office: info@su.uzh.ch.
  • Mark on the floor spaces where people waiting should stand a safe distance apart.
  • Keep a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between you and the customer whenever possible. Try to position the furniture to make this possible.
  • If this is not possible, install a plexiglass screen. These can be ordered from the Safety, Security and Environment Office by e-mailing info@su.uzh.ch (measurements: Width: 95 cm, Height: 83 cm).
  • Turn away customers who have a cough, fever, or breathing difficulties. Ask them about their symptoms if in doubt!
  • Regularly clean PC keyboards and surfaces which are used by several people (using normal cleaning products or with a paper towel dipped in a diluted soap solution). Ideally the person starting the shift should do the cleaning to meet their own hygiene standards.
  • Do not share pens or pencils with customers.
  • Keep the consultation time short.
  • Do not shake hands with or touch customers.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Only touch your eyes, nose and mouth with freshly washed hands.

NB: Optionally, you can provide hand disinfectant or gloves (send e-mail to info@su.uzh.ch for supplies).

In case of questions please contact the Safety, Security and Environment Office: info@su.uzh.ch

Are the cafeterias and cafés open?

Some UZH cafeterias and cafés are open and offering limited services. For up-to-date information, please visit the ZFV website:
UZH Cafeterias and Cafés

How are cafeterias ensuring that the hygiene and protective measures are observed?

As the operator of cafeterias and cafés, the ZFV has drawn up site-specific safety concepts with the necessary hygiene and protective measures and is responsible for ensuring that these are observed. All customers must adhere to the applicable rules communicated on site.

What opportunities are there to do sport?

ASVZ has resumed operations. Please consult the website for current provisions.


Can members of UZH get vaccinated at UZH?

The federal government and the cantons are responsible for developing and implementing Switzerland’s vaccination strategy. The UZH Travel Clinic is currently vaccinating people who are at high risk of serious illness on behalf of the Canton of Zurich’s Department of Health. The Department of Health itself is using mobile vaccination units to bring the vaccines to residents of care and nursing homes. Furthermore, GPs and family doctors have also started vaccinating high-risk patients in their practices.

The University of Zurich does not have privileged access to vaccines. However, in the second quarter of 2021, more doses will become available and vaccinations will be rolled out for the general population. At present, the Department of Health expects that people will be able to register for vaccinations from May onward. Vaccinations for the general population are expected to start in June/July. The Canton of Zurich’s campaign is relying on 11 large vaccination centers, 150 pharmacies and GPs across the canton to administer some 20,000 vaccinations a day. If sufficient vaccine doses, personnel and other required resources are available at that time, UZH will assess the provision of vaccinations to members of UZH in addition to the canton’s vaccination capacity.

For more information on coronavirus vaccinations in the Canton of Zurich (in German): Kanton Zürich: Coronavirus-Impfung

Are the rules different for people have or haven't been vaccinated?

No, the same rules and measures apply for everyone. The vaccination is primarily for personal protection.


If my vaccination appointment is during working hours, does this count as a doctor’s appointment?

Yes, you can record your vaccination appointment as a doctor’s appointment in your time sheet (listed as “Consultation” in the English version of the time sheet). This is the case regardless of whether the vaccination is done at a doctor’s practice, a vaccination center, a pharmacy or another location.

The same rules apply as for medical and dental appointments, i.e.:

  • Only the time spent at the appointment counts as working time, not the time spent traveling there and back
  • On the day in question, the time counted for the appointment may not take your working hours for that day above the standard daily working hours, i.e. you may not thereby accrue additional hours.

According to FOPG criteria, I am at an especially high risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19. What should I do?

Please follow the relevant FOPH rules on hygiene and social distancing at work and in private; in particular, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, use masks on public transportation and maintain a distance of at least 1.5 meters to others. Avoid large gatherings of people and traveling during peak times.

If you cannot follow the relevant social distancing rules at work, measures must be taken in accordance with the STOP principle (in the order listed):
1.   Substitution (e.g. different tasks)
2.   Technical measures (e.g. partitions)
3.   Organizational measures (e.g. physical separation, non-changing teams)
4.   Personal protective measures (e.g. masks)

If social distancing rules cannot be observed at the workplace and working from home is a temporary organizational solution, line managers will assess and decide on how and how long the option to work from home can be applied.

The Safety, Security and Environment Office (Occupational Medicine) is happy to assist you with any specific questions you may have about protective measures or risk assessments: arbeitsmedizin@su.uzh.ch.

I am pregnant. What must I look out for when it comes to Covid-19?

According to FOPH criteria, pregnant women have been among those at an especially high risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 since 5 August 2020. You should thus follow the relevant FOPH recommendations for people in high-risk groups (see also UZH FAQ: “According to FOPH criteria, I am at an especially high risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19. What should I do? ”). For more information please refer to the detailed provisions.
Detailed Provisions on the Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations (in German) (in German)

General information about maternity and parenthood, incl. the relevant UZH fact sheets, are available on the staff website.
Staff website: Parenthood

The Safety, Security and Environment Office (Occupational Medicine) is happy to assist you with any specific questions you may have about protective measures or risk assessments:

I have come into close contact with someonewho has a confirmed infection with coronavirus. What should I do?

If you have come into close contact with someone who has a confirmed infection, i.e. you live in the same household or have an intimate relationship with them, you must self-isolate for 10 days. This will prevent the transmission of the virus to other people in your household and in the general population, as you yourself could be contagious during this time. You are obliged to inform your line manager about the situation as soon as you become aware of it.

I live with someone who is in a high-risk group but doesn’t have any health issues. Am I required to work from home, or is this optional?

For those who live with people who are in a high-risk group, decisions will be made jointly by the persons affected and their line managers on an individual basis based on the Covid-19 Ordinance and the relevant employment regulations of the Canton of Zurich. With regard to medical issues, the Safety Security and Environment Office (Occupational Medicine) is on hand to provide advice.
Safety, Security and Environment Office (Occupational Medicine)
Human Resources Office

Can coronavirus be spread via air-conditioning systems?

According to the FOPH, current research has found that ventilation and air conditioning systems do not pose any increased risk of infection with the novel coronavirus provided they are correctly operated and maintained. At UZH, ventilation units are maintained and operated by the respective Facility Management teams in accordance with the current recommendations and guidelines of the national and European professional bodies. This means, among other things, that the air circulation function has been replaced by fresh air supply. This leads to higher energy use, but is essential to meet the requirements. Rooms without ventilation systems should be aired well on a regular basis. The smaller the room, the more often it should be aired. At the very least, rooms should be aired for 5–10 minutes every hour.
FOPH: Frequently Asked Questions about the new Coronavirus

To what extent has UZH taken new findings on the aerosol transmission of coronavirus into account in its safety concept?

The role of aerosols is not yet clear. Nevertheless, the UZH safety concept has taken this form of transmission into account to some extent by requiring regular ventilation (in rooms that don’t already an integrated system).

Does UZH recommend the use of air purifiers, especially in rooms that can not be properly ventilated?

Air purifiers do not replace ventilation. Even in cold seasons, ventilation should be carried out regularly ( push ventilation) if no mechanical air conditioning is available. In rooms that are poorly ventilated, we strongly recommend that masks are worn, distances are maintained and the possibilities of split office/home office are utilized. Unsuitable devices (air purifiers and others) and incorrectly chosen locations can even increase health risks. For these reasons, the use of air purifiers is currently not considered. Developments are continuously monitored and measures are adapted to official requirements and research findings.

Why are door handles and similar contamination hot spots not removed systematically?

There is no evidence that removing all door handles is a meaningful measure when it comes to containing the pandemic. Good hand hygiene is crucial.

Lessons Learned

Will the experience we have gained with regard to working from home and virtual collaboration be taken up constructively in order to establish these as new forms of work at UZH?

The Executive Board of the University will analyze experiences made with working from home and digitalization and inform in due course.