Coronavirus: Switzerland prohibits cross-border shopping

Coronavirus: Switzerland prohibits cross-border shopping
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Switzerland has expanded the coronavirus lockdown measures to include a prohibition on cross-border shopping.

Anyone living in neighbouring countries who crosses the border into Switzerland only to go shopping will be in breach of the ordinance and will therefore be fined. 

On Wednesday, March 25th, Switzerland closed its borders to everyone except citizens, residents and cross-border workers. 

READ: What is Switzerland's official three-phase plan to rollback coronavirus lockdown?

This however didn’t stop people who live in neighbouring countries but who possess any of the above permissions from crossing into Switzerland to go shopping. 

The Federal Council has now banned the practice, with customs officials telling authorities that they had seen “lively cross-border shopping” from various permit holders. 

The Federal Council said this was using up valuable border control resources which could be better utilised elsewhere. 

The current fine for all breaches of Swiss lockdown restrictions is CHF100. 

READ: What is the real count of coronavirus infections in Switzerland?

 

‘Shopping itself is not prohibited’ 

The Federal Council has said that fines will not be issued purely to any non-resident who buys something while in Switzerland. 

The fines will instead be issued to people who cross over the border for the purpose of shopping. 

Permit holders entering Switzerland for legitimate reasons, i.e. to work, will not be prohibited from shopping while they are in Switzerland. 

According to official statistics, more than 325,000 people cross the Swiss border from France, Germany and Italy to work each day, however these figures were tallied before the coronavirus outbreak and are likely to now be significantly different. 

Cross-border workers remain an essential part of Switzerland’s healthcare sector, with an estimated 6-8,000 in the canton of Ticino alone. 

‘Extreme necessity’ 

Residents of neighbouring countries are therefore now only allowed to cross the Swiss border for the purposes of work, or to cross for reasons of “extreme necessity”. 

While previously the ‘necessity’ would be decided upon by border authorities, more guidance has been given to the circumstances according to which crossings will be allowed. 

‘Extreme necessity’ now is taken to mean caring for sick or elderly family members, visitation rights for parents or for reasons of medical treatment. 

Anyone crossing the border into Switzerland may be required to provide proof of their reason for entry. 


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