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HEALTH

Swiss-Italian border ‘to remain open’ despite coronavirus concerns

Swiss and Italian authorities have promised that the southern border with Italy will remain open, despite much of northern Italy on quarantine lockdown.

Swiss-Italian border 'to remain open' despite coronavirus concerns
Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

In a phone call between Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis on Sunday, the countries promised that the border would not be shuttered and would remain open to cross-border commuters. 

Pursuant to the agreement, all cross-border workers will be able to go across the border without being impeded. The Federal Council however recommended that cross-border workers carry with them their ‘G-Permits’ – which secure their status – at all times. 

UPDATE: What you need to know about coronavirus in Switzerland

A spokesperson for Swiss rail authority SBB told news outlet Watson “Passengers from Switzerland can travel to Italy without restrictions. We are going as long as the Italian authorities do not give any other instructions”.

The Swiss government did however warn Swiss residents not to go to regions in northern Italy affected by the coronavirus. 

Italian authorities have indicated they will carry out border controls to ensure their quarantine measures were respected.

More than 15 million people have been quarantined in northern Italy as authorities struggle to contain the spread of the virus

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The border also remains open for the movement of goods. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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