Switzerland: What are the rules for cross-border shopping in neighbouring countries?
While many restrictions are still in place for tourists coming to Germany, rules have been relaxed for Swiss shoppers.
The cross-border ‘shopping tourism’ is very popular among Switzerland’s public, as food and many other goods are cheaper in neighbouring countries.
At certain times during the pandemic, crossing the border for non-essential reasons, including shopping, was banned.
Right now, however, this activity is allowed, though some restrictions are still in place.
Strict rules have also been in place in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, which closed its border with Switzerland in December to prevent shopping tourism.
Anyone who violated these restrictions could be fined up to 3,000 euros (3,280 francs).
However, on April 21st, Germany has relaxed its entry rules, allowing fully vaccinated Swiss residents, along with people who have contracted coronavirus between 21 days and three months prior, to cross the border to go shopping without needing to quarantine.
But a negative PCR test was still compulsory to enter Germany.
On Thursday, however, the test requirement was lifted, a spokesperson for the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Social Affairs confirmed to Südkurier newspaper.
What exactly does this mean?
Not only is a quick shopping trip across the border possible without quarantine and testing, but also stays of less than 24 hours.
But if your stay in Germany — even in the border areas close to Switzerland — exceeds this time limit, the quarantine obligation applies. Anyone who violates this rule could be fined up to 1,000 euros (around 1,100 francs).
Are the shops open?
Non-essential shopping is still not allowed in Germany — as was the case in Switzerland until March 1st.
However, in the Baden-Württemberg, the German state which shares a border Switzerland, it is possible to make purchases in specialty stores via “Click and Meet”.
This is how the official site of Baden-Württemberg explains this process:
“By making an appointment in advance, customers can shop in a fixed time slot. No more than one customer per 40 square metres may be present at the same time. Customers and employees must wear a medical or FFP2 / KN95 / N95 / KN94 / KN99 mask.
Several people can make an appointment together. However, the rules of contact restrictions for no more than five people from two households still apply - children up to and including the age of 13 do not count towards the number of persons.
An area of 40 square metres is to be taken into account for each person in the group. So if a couple comes to shop together, 80 square metres of retail space is available here”.
What about the rules in the two other popular border shopping regions in France and Italy?
Swiss residents living up to 30 kilometres from the border can go shopping in France freely, without having to show a negative Covid test.
But if you intend to stay in the country longer than 24 hours, you will need a negative PCR Covid test, as well as a declaration that you are symptom-free and have not been in contact with any coronavirus cases.
You can find the relevant forms, and the exempt groups, here.
Italy requires travellers from the EU and Schengen zone states, including Switzerland, to test negative for coronavirus no more than 48 hours before arriving in Italy, then spend five days in quarantine. They must then take another test after self-isolating.
These rules are in place until May 15th at the earliest, so we should know soon whether they’ll be extended or lifted, and whether a quick shopping trip across the border is feasible.