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‘Sushi smugglers’: Why food deliveries in this Swiss-Italian border town are causing havoc

Authorities in a small Ticino town are at a loss on how to stop customers in Switzerland from ordering sushi from nearby restaurants in Italy.

'Sushi smugglers': Why food deliveries in this Swiss-Italian border town are causing havoc
This photo shows Swiss customers waiting at the border for sushi delivery from Italy. Photo by Commune di Monteggio

Good sushi is expensive in Ticino, but with borders closed, a trip to Italy for lunch is not really on the menu.

As a result, local residents order the dish online from the nearby Italian town of Ponte Tresa and have it delivered at the border.

While delivery drivers are not allowed to cross into Switzerland to make the delivery, they wait on the border to hand the orders over. 

The ensuing congestion at the border creates “a dangerous, unacceptable and intolerable situation” particularly on weekends, according to Piero Marchesi, mayor of Monteggio, a Swiss municipality located on the border.

In an interview with Ticino Online, Marchesi spoke of “rudeness, chaos of traffic, gatherings and illegal parking” as Swiss customers wait to pick up their orders from Italy. 

 

 

 

“We ask the cantonal and municipal police to coordinate with the border guards to find a solution. I can't go there to direct traffic”, he said.

The customs of Ponte Cremenaga, Fornasette and Ponte Tresa have become a meeting point for customers picking up their food orders from Italy.

In response to Marchesi’s complaints, the Federal Customs Administration (AFD) confirmed that “the border areas, for various reasons related to safety and traffic aspects, are not suitable to be used for exchange of goods”.

 

 

 

For his part, Norman Gobbi, president of the canton’s Council of State said that “there are several services that offer sushi in the Ticino area”.

Meanwhile, Ticino officials asked Bern to introduce border restrictions to limit non-essential traffic to and from Italy, a request that has not yet been answered by federal authorities.

READ MORE: Why are cross-border workers exempted from Switzerland’s new travel restrictions? 

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ITALY

Ticino officials ask government to reintroduce checks at Swiss-Italian border

With a number of cases of mutated coronavirus detected in a retirement home and middle school, the canton wants Swiss federal authorities to better monitor cross-border traffic.

Ticino officials ask government to reintroduce checks at Swiss-Italian border
Ticino wants better checks at the Italian border. Photo by AFP

About 70,000 workers from Italy commute each day to their jobs in Ticino, but “the significant cross-border flow appears only partially linked to professional reasons”, cantonal officials said in a statement released this week

Worried that people entering the canton from Italy will spread the new Covid variant, Ticino officials asked the Federal Council “to introduce systematic controls at the border and to close minor crossings, except for the crossings most used by health sector workers”.

The recent decree of Italy’s government limits travel between Italian regions but not towards neighbouring states.

Switzerland’s border with Italy has been open since June 15th, 2020, after being closed for three months during the first wave of the pandemic. At that time, only cross-border workers were allowed to come to Ticino.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Cross-border train service between Switzerland and Italy to continue running 

Since the re-opening, border checks have been random and sporadic.

Ticino authorities added that “it would also be desirable to systematically subject travellers returning to Switzerland from travel abroad, in particular from risk areas, to rapid coronavirus tests”.

The Federal Council has not yet responded to Ticino’s request. 

Entry into Switzerland from France, Germany and Austria is also allowed, except for the quarantine requirement that may be in place at the time of arrival.

From January 15th, travellers from Germany’s Land Sachsen and Italy’s Region Veneto must quarantine for 10 days upon entering in Switzerland. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland's quarantine rules?

 

 

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