‘You’d laugh if it wasn’t so tragic’: Swiss authorities slammed after Britons escape coronavirus quarantine

‘You’d laugh if it wasn’t so tragic’: Swiss authorities slammed after Britons escape coronavirus quarantine
A poster informing people that masks are required in the village of Verbier. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Authorities in Switzerland have been heavily criticised after hundreds of Britons escaped quarantine in the ski resort of Verbier over the weekend.

Between 200 and 300 Britons are estimated to have left quarantine early in Switzerland over the weekend, with the majority suspected to have headed to France or back to the United Kingdom.

Authorities are however unsure of their exact whereabouts, with flights between Switzerland and the UK heavily restricted due to the new mutation of the virus.   

The quarantine was imposed retrospectively on December 20th, requiring all those who arrived after December 14th to quarantine for ten days.

Christophe Darbellay, head of government in the canton of Valais, said Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health “had made our work unnecessarily difficult” in the way they imposed the quarantine.

Darbellay said the canton had pulled out all the stops to ensure that requirements were complied with, but that they received valuable information about the quarantine too late from the government.

READ: Hundreds of British ski tourists escape quarantine in Valais

Specifically, the cantons said the federal government took too long to provide them with information about the amount – and the location – of Brits who had flown into Switzerland.

“You'd have to laugh if it weren't tragic,” said the Greens National Councillor and trade unionist Katharina Prelicz-Huber.

She called on the government to make more staff available to carry out controls to see if people were adhering to the rules.

“Precisely because the mutated virus can spread, the federal government and the cantons must finally set up a powerful organisation in such cases.”

“More staff are needed who can be called upon if necessary: Personal home visits are more effective than the threat of draconian fines.”

‘The cantons must enforce quarantine’

Switzerland’s federal government disagrees, saying the blame for the missing Brits is with Valais authorities.

“It is up to the cantons to enforce the quarantine,” spokesman Grégoire Gogniat told 20 Minutes.

Gogniat disagreed that it took too long in providing information, saying the passenger info was provided on the same day the quarantine came into effect.  


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