FOR MEMBERS

Everything that changes in Switzerland in December 2020

Everything that changes in Switzerland in December 2020
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
From federal aid to businesses and restaurant re-openings, to the new train timetable, this is what you can expect to happen in Switzerland in December.

Financial aid to businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

From December 1st, the government will begin to distribute 400 million francs to companies most affected by the coronavirus crisis. 

Passed in September, the Covid-19 Act provides support for companies hard hit by the pandemic-related closures, especially in the hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.

Federal and cantonal governments must participate equally, up to 200 million each.

The Federal Council adopted the so-called ‘hardship ordinance’ on Wednesday.

Restaurants in five of Switzerland’s six French-speaking regions will be back in business as of December 10th.

Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, and Jura announced their common decision to re-open restaurants and cafés on their territories on December 10th.

The move is possible due to declining infection rates in the regions that had been the hardest hit in Switzerland in October and beginning of November.

Of the French-speaking cantons, only Valais restaurants will remain shut, as the canton had extended its closures until December 13th.

Swiss railways (SBB) will change their timetable on December 13th.

According to SBB, the new schedule “will be marked by the completion of the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA) after 28 years of construction.”

“This level-track rail route through the Alps will enable new service offers in freight and passenger services, both nationally and internationally”.

The 2021 timetable will also provide faster and more frequent connections to Milan and Munich, “as well as a number of improvements for passenger services across the whole of Switzerland”.

Ceneri Tunnel fully completed

After opening the Lotschberg Base Tunnel in 2007 and the Gotthard Base Tunnel in 2016, the Ceneri in Switzerland's southern Ticino region is the final stage of the New Railway Link through the Alps project.

The project will be completed in December. 

The route should ease the flow of goods along a railway freight corridor running from the North Sea at Rotterdam, Europe's largest seaport, to Genoa, Italy's biggest port, on the Mediterranean.

READ: New Swiss Alps tunnel set to transform Europe's rail links

It is hoped the link will slash the number of trucks rumbling through the Alps by offering an alternative rail route.

But the 15.4-kilometre-long Ceneri tunnel, which fully enters service in December, will also cut travel time for passengers crossing western Europe's greatest mountain range.

For example, travel times between Zurich and Milan — already significantly shortened by the Gotthard tunnel — will be cut by 40 minutes to just three hours.

Opening of the Swiss ski season

While some ski resorts in Switzerland are already operating, most will open between December 5th and 19th. 

However, this year The Swiss Ski Lift Association is implementing safety measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Is it safe to ski in the Swiss Alps this season?

Masks are mandatory not only in closed spaces such as mountain trains and cable cars, but also on open-air chair lifts and T-bars, as well as in queues.

But masks are not obligatory on the slopes.

In addition, queuing will be regulated so it “runs in an orderly manner and without major clusters”.

Brexit

December 2020 is the final month that the UK will be a part of the EU. 

As reported by The Local Switzerland, under the Swiss-UK agreement struck in September, the rights of UK citizens in Switzerland and vice versa are protected – provided they live in their adopted country by December of 2020. 

The agreement specifically provides that people who have taken up residence in the other country in recent years by virtue of the free movement of persons agreement may continue to reside there. 

Those covered by the agreement not only retain this right of residency but also social security claims and the recognition of professional qualifications for life. 

More information is available here. 

 

 


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