Karin Keller-Sutter, Head of the Swiss Justice Department, said that the government would not stop residents of Switzerland from leaving in the summer and would not prevent them returning.
She did however indicate that anyone intending to do so may encounter difficulties getting out of Switzerland, as many neighbouring countries are set to keep their borders closed for the foreseeable future.
Not an ‘official recommendation’
Keller-Sutter’s statement came just days after Erik Jakob, head of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, said trips would need to be postponed until 2021.
“On a personal recommendation, I would postpone trips abroad until next year”, Jakob said on Monday.
On Wednesday, Jakob apologised for his comments, saying that while he personally planned not to take any holidays, his statement was not an “official recommendation”.
“My statements were in no way intended as an official recommendation to postpone all holiday trips abroad from 2020 to 2021.”
Swiss can leave and return – but should check with destination countries
Keller-Sutter said that while Swiss were permitted to leave the country, they needed to be cautious about the situation in any destination countries – even those which shared a border with Switzerland.
“Many are already thinking about summer vacation. Swiss people can leave Switzerland as they wish and then enter again. The question is whether they are allowed to enter the other country,” she said.
“The question of when (the current situation) will change cannot be answered clearly at the moment. In dialogue with our neighbouring countries, I found that everyone is very careful.
“(At the moment) Nobody wants to encourage mobility unnecessarily.”
As it stands, all Swiss citizens as well as residence permit holders and cross-border permit holders were allowed to enter Switzerland – but tourists and other visitors were restricted.
Keller-Sutter said that while she could see this being relaxed sometime in the coming weeks, she doubted Switzerland would be open to international tourists this summer.
“At the moment we have no interest in mobility being increased unilaterally at the border. We have to discuss this with our neighbouring countries,” she said.
“The fact that foreigners can simply come to Switzerland will certainly not work.”
Swiss holidays preferred
Keller-Sutter said that for holiday makers unsure of where to go this summer, vacations in Switzerland should be preferred.
“The good thing is: Holidays in Switzerland are possible at any time. We would like to call on the population to spend their holidays in Switzerland.
“This also helps us to stimulate the economy again.”