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Why Zurich, Ticino and Lucerne want to legalise Sunday shopping

Shopping on a Sunday could become legal in Zurich. Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash
Shopping on a Sunday could become legal in Zurich. Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash
In most Swiss cities and towns, shopping on Sundays is forbidden. Three cantons want to change that.

Government representatives in the cantons of Zurich, Ticino and Lucerne have called for a change in the rules for Sunday shopping. 

Currently, both retail and grocery shopping is only allowed on Sunday in a handful of touristic mountain cantons. 

The representatives argue a change is needed to boost tourism after the economic damage caused by the Covid pandemic. 

Carmen Walker Späh, Economics Director of the Canton of Zurich, told a media conference on Friday that Swiss cities needed to be more interesting and lively to attract tourists on Sundays. 

READ MORE: Can Switzerland’s ski season withstand Omicron surge?

“In St.Moritz you can also buy your ski equipment on Sundays. But if you forgot your swimming trunks in Zurich, you are faced with closed doors,” Späh said. 

Economic department bosses from Ticino and Lucerne were also present at the conference. 

While tourism is slowly rebounding in Switzerland despite the continued uncertainty of the Covid pandemic, Späh said the situation was particularly dire in larger metropolises like Zurich and Geneva due to the lack of business travellers. 

READ MORE: Swiss tourism rebounding despite Omicron threat

Experts believe that business travel is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Späh called upon “the federal council to give tourism a booster”. 

Will such a change come to pass? 

Currently, Swiss labour law prevents people in certain industries from working on Sundays, which consequentially means that businesses in these areas are closed. 

It is however possible to receive an exemption to the rules to set up ’tourism zones’ where the rules do not apply. This is the case in several resort towns where winter sport is popular. 

EXPLAINED: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

In order for a change in policy to become law, an amendment to the ‘no working on Sunday’ ordinance must be approved by federal authorities. 

The first step is for cantons however to canvass opinion locally on the topic and lay out areas where these tourism zones should be. 


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