The nine French areas that Swiss authorities placed on the list do not share borders with Switzerland.
However, France placed Ain, which borders part of Geneva, on its list of “red zones” because the number of cases there exceeds 50 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Switzerland’s criteria for placing a country or a region on its risk list are 60 cases for 100,000.
Additionally, the government said that the “border regions of our neighbouring countries are currently exempt from mandatory quarantine”.
This means that if you go shopping in Haute-Savoie, Haute-Rhin and— yes, also Ain — you don’t have to quarantine when you return to Switzerland.
While the government made these rules to allow cross-border workers from these regions — who are essential to Switzerland’s economy — to travel freely between the two countries, it has not excluded others, including shoppers.
According to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), “all trips to border regions are excluded from the quarantine requirement, even if there is a high risk of infection in these regions”.
However, “shopping tourism in regions with a high risk of infection outside the border regions entails a 10-day period of mandatory quarantine”.
Many Swiss residents living close to the borders — not only with France, but also with Italy and Germany — often go shopping in the neighbouring countries, as prices there are cheaper than in Switzerland.
For instance, a study conducted in 2019 showed that the basket of products that cost 168 francs (157 euros) in Switzerland are 107 euros in Germany, 109 euros in France, and 98 euros in Italy.
But during the lockdown, cross-border shopping was strictly forbidden, as borders were closed to all non-essential traffic.
In fact, over 2,400 people were fined at Swiss borders for breaching restrictions and going shopping abroad anyway.