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Switzerland and Italy to suspend cross-border train services indefinitely

Switzerland and Italy will halt all cross-border rail services from Thursday because train personnel do not have capacity to carry out COVID-19 safety checks.

Switzerland and Italy to suspend cross-border train services indefinitely
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Train staff are unable to carry out the checks, which have been ordered by the Italian government, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The move to suspend the trains is in place indefinitely and affects dozens of daily cross-border services, including 'EuroCity' connections and long-distance trains between Milan and Frankfurt. 

Regional trains that connect the two countries, which are used by thousands of cross-border workers are also affected.

Switzerland and neighbouring Italy, Germany and France had already reduced train services in November, but the Italian government introduced new requirements due to the surge in cases during the second wave of the pandemic.

That has resulted in the train services being halted as they were during the first wave back in spring.

Italy did not explicitly forbid train travel abroad, but its requirements — including for passengers’ temperatures to be measured — exceed the capacity of train personnel, an SBB spokeswoman told Reuters, leading to the decision to suspend the Swiss-Italian routes.

“Swiss Federal Railways trains will travel only to the country’s border to Italy,” SBB said.

Italy, France and Germany have also introduced new requirements meant to prevent skiers from travelling over the holidays to Switzerland and Austria, where resorts are due to be open for limited, locals-only skiing.

The SBB has promised to refund people who purchased tickets, reports 20 Minutes

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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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