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EXPLAINED: Why did Switzerland only ‘partially’ close its border with Italy?

Switzerland has closed nine of its border crossings with Italy in an attempt to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. But nine other border points remain open.

EXPLAINED: Why did Switzerland only 'partially' close its border with Italy?
Strict controls are performed at Ticino's border with Italy. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

Why did the Swiss government take the step of closing nine border crossings with Italy?

With more than 10,000 known coronavirus cases to date, Italy is at the forefront of the outbreak. It is the worst-hit country in Europe and outside China.

Nearly all of the early Covid-19 patients in Switzerland caught the virus in Italy or from someone who had travelled to Italy.

One of the four people who died from coronavirus, an elderly woman in Vaud, got infected on a trip to Italy.

So the authorities decided to partially close the border in Ticino — the Swiss canton that shares the longest frontier with Italy — to prevent the further spread of the disease.

The measure by the Swiss government is in contrast to that taken by the Austrian and Slovenian governments which have introduced much tighter border controls with Italy.

Why only close the border partially rather than completely?

Closing it entirely would be detrimental to Switzerland’s economy.

More than 67,800 Italians work in Ticino. These cross-border workers make up more than a quarter of the total workforce in the canton. They are employed in all sectors, including the public one.

About 4,000 work in the healthcare sector, so closing the border would deprive Ticino’s hospitals of the basic personnel just at a time when the canton is grappling with 120 cases of coronavirus.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said that “we are interdependent on the European continent. Our neighbours know, for example, how much the Swiss healthcare system depends on border staff”.

Therefore, imposing the total ban on entry into Switzerland would likely paralyse a large part of the Ticino economy and jeopardise many basic services for the population.

But no access is granted to general public.

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

What kind of controls are being done at the border to ensure that only legitimate workers come into Switzerland?

Since there are now fewer entry points from Italy, the people coming in and out can be checked more efficiently.

Christian Bock, head of the Swiss Customs Office said in a news conference on Wednesday that the purpose of this measure “is not to block the passageway but to better monitor the flow of traffic”. 

This means that people commuting from Italy to Ticino must show their G-permits to prove they are employed in the canton. These permits are issued to frontaliers who commute to and from their jobs in Switzerland each day.

READ MORE: Five things you should know if you're a cross-border worker in Switzerland 

The border points that are closed are in bold below, while alternative crossing points are in italics.

PedrinateChiasso strada (Ponte Chiasso)

Ponte FaloppiaNovazzano Brusata (Bizzarone), Chiasso strada 

Novazzano Marcetto Novazzano Brusata (Bizzarone), Chiasso strada

San Pietro di StabioStabio Gaggiolo 

Ligornetto CantornStabio Gaggiolo

ArzoStabio Gaggiolo, Brusino Arsizio

Ponte CremenagaFornasette o Ponte Tresa

CassinoneFornasette

IndeminiDirinella (Zenna)

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COVID-19

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?

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