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Coronavirus: Switzerland closes five more border crossings between Ticino and Italy

As of midnight on Wednesday March 18the, the Swiss federal government closed more border crossings with Italy in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Switzerland closes five more border crossings between Ticino and Italy
Entry into Switzerland is restricted at all its borders. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

These additional restrictions come as Switzerland’s confirmed Covid-19 cases now number 3,028, although the real figure is likely much higher given not every suspected case is being tested.

The newly closed border crossings between Ticino and Italy are Arogno, Brusino, Pizzamiglio, Camedo and Fornasette.

On March 11th, the Swiss government already closed nine entry points between Ticino and Italy to limit the traffic from the country that is at the forefront of the Covid-19 outbreak. It is the worst-hit country in Europe and outside China.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why did Switzerland partially close its border with Italy

However, the Federal Council is not closing the border completely. Open points include Chiasso strada (Ponte Chiasso), Novazzano Brusata (Bizzarone), Chiasso strada, Stabio Gaggiolo, and Dirinella (Zenna).

These crossings remain open as Ticino’s economy relies heavily on  67,800 Italian employees who make up more than a quarter of the total workforce in the canton.

About 4,000 of these frontaliers work in the healthcare sector, so closing the border would deprive Ticino's hospitals of the basic personnel at a time when the number of coronavirus cases is on the rise.

A similar situation exists in Geneva, which shares a border with France.

In total, 85,000 French citizens work in Geneva, making up 60 percent of the personnel at the canton’s university hospital (HUG).

As so many cross-border workers are employed in the medical sector, Geneva authorities implemented this week a ‘filtering' system allowing health care workers to have priority access.

These workers now have special stickers identifying them as medical employees. Similar priority access is also given to other essential personnel, such as police.

READ MORE: Geneva's cross-border traffic streamlined based on priority 

Switzerland also closed many of its border crossings with neighbours Germany and Austria.
In all, 130 crossings are shuttered or partially closed.

Here is a full list of closed borders.

“These measures aim to protect the Swiss population and maintain the capacities of the Swiss health system,” the Federal Council said. 

It added that Liechtenstein is not affected by this measure because it is part of the Swiss customs territory.

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.  
 

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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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