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Border between Italy and Switzerland partially closed: What you need to know

Border between Italy and Switzerland partially closed: What you need to know
Photo: MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP
After announcing on Tuesday that the border between the two countries would remain open, Switzerland has partially closed the border between the two countries. Here's what you need to know.

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On Tuesday, Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis said the correct approach in tackling the coronavirus was not to close borders but instead to promote European cooperation. 

Swiss authorities had been reluctant to close the borders due to the number of cross-border workers who live in Italy but work in the Swiss healthcare sector. 

Cassis addressed this, saying “the health reality is that we are interdependent on the European continent. Our neighbours know, for example, how much the Swiss healthcare system depends on border staff.”

Around 4,000 healthcare workers traverse the border daily – along with 70,000 workers in total.

On Wednesday however, Swiss authorities issued a list of nine border crossings which would be closed. 

As at Wednesday afternoon, March 11th, cross-border workers from Italy will be permitted to cross into Switzerland – although they will need to use one of the alternative border crossings provided below. 

READ: Coronavirus cases approach 650 as virus spreads to almost all Swiss cantons

UPDATE: What you need to know about coronavirus in Switzerland

Neighbouring Austria on Tuesday closed its border to Italy and is set to refuse any entrants from the country, with Slovenia putting in similar restrictions. 

Italy has also put in place extensive restrictions on internal travel in the country. 

Border closures and alternative routes

Partial border closures were put in place on Wednesday between Switzerland and Italy.

In total, nine border crossings were closed, with an alternative crossing point provided for each. 

Pedrinate -> Chiasso strada (Ponte Chiasso)

Ponte Faloppia -> Novazzano Brusata (Bizzarone), Chiasso strada 

Novazzano Marcetto -> Novazzano Brusata (Bizzarone), Chiasso strada

San Pietro di Stabio -> Stabio Gaggiolo 

Ligornetto Cantorn -> Stabio Gaggiolo

Arzo -> Stabio Gaggiolo, Brusino Arsizio

Ponte Cremenaga -> Fornasette o Ponte Tresa

Cassinone -> Fornasette

Indemini -> Dirinella (Zenna)

A swift change: Increasing numbers force government to reconsider
 
On Tuesday while meeting his French counterpart in Paris, Cassis said border closures were not being considered as they were not effective – and that cooperation was the best protection. 

“We must reiterate to our fellow citizens that at this epidemiological stage, when the virus is circulating all over Europe, the closing of borders is no longer taken into consideration,” he said. 

“Everyone is affected. What matters is first of all coordination between the health services of European countries.

“The coronavirus crisis requires us to exchange as much information as possible, both on the progression of the epidemic and on the state of stocks for protective equipment.”

The rapid increase in detected infections overnight however – rising from under 500 to approximately 650 from Tuesday to Wednesday – forced a re-think.
 
There have been no indications as to when the crossings will remain closed. 
 
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