With stricter controls now taking place at Geneva’s border with France, and only limited crossings remaining open, there are long queues at the canton’s entry points.
As thousands of French workers are employed in Geneva’s healthcare sector, authorities wanted to make sure they could get into the canton without waiting in lines.
Since yesterday, these workers have special stickers identifying them as medical sector employees. Similar priority access is also given to other essential personnel, such as police.
Authorities also want to set up dedicated traffic lanes at major customs points like Bardonnex and Thônex-Vallard.
“This should streamline traffic and allow health workers who live on the other side of the border to be faster at their posts in Geneva,” explained Mauro Poggia, cantonal head of health and security.
The stickers are documents with an official stamp, to be placed in a visible place in the car. They are issued free of charge to workers authorised by their employers, such as hospitals.
In order to curb the spread of coronavirus, 19 crossings between Geneva and France were closed on Tuesday, with only 15 remaining open.
Entry points at Ferney-Voltaire, Meyrin, Perly, Bardonnex, Thônex-Vallard, Moillesullaz, and Anières are open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Those at Mategnin, Chancy 1, Soral 1, Croix-de-Rozon, Veyrier, Fossard, Mon-Idée, and Monniaz will be open every day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cross-border health workers will be given priority access because they are a crucial part of Geneva’s economy, especially as the number of Covid-19 cases is on the rise. About 60 percent of employees at the Geneva University Hospital (HUG) come daily from France.
In total, 85,000 French workers are employed in Geneva.
A similar situation exists in Ticino, where about 4,000 Italians (of 67,800 frontaliers) work in the canton’s health care sector.
Switzerland closed nine of its border crossings with Italy last week, leaving several others open to enable these workers to come into Ticino.
Open points include Chiasso strada (Ponte Chiasso), Novazzano Brusata (Bizzarone), Chiasso strada, Stabio Gaggiolo, Brusino Arsizio, Fornasette or Ponte Tresa, and Dirinella (Zenna).
To date no special access has been ensured for hospital workers in that region.
Entry is now only possible for Swiss citizens, people with a residence permit in Switzerland, cross-border workers with a G-permit, as well as those who must travel in Switzerland for professional reasons. Transit and transport of commercial (but not private) goods remain authorised.
The Federal Council announced on Monday tighter controls at all of Switzerland’s borders, including those with Germany and Austria. The move is a part of the emergency measures to cut the spread of coronavirus from the neighbouring countries.
According to Federal Customs Administration, 2,200 people have been denied entry into Switzerland since Monday.