Controls extended on German-Swiss border

Numerous border posts have been closed between Germany and Switzerland, like the frontier post at Weil am Rhein, near Basel. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Germany has prolonged border checks with Switzerland and other neighbouring countries until May 15 to ensure that the new coronavirus is ‘further successfully contained’, according to the interior ministry. 

This content was published on May 5, 2020

Border controls introduced in mid-March to combat the coronavirus pandemic will be extended between Germany and Switzerland, Austria, France, Luxembourg and Denmark. The extension also applies to flights between Germany and Spain and Italy.

On the Swiss side, Switzerland’s land and air borders with Germany, Austria and France were closed on March 17. Previously strict border controls were put in place with Italy from March 13 to curb the spread of the virus and were extended to all other Schengen and non-Schengen states on March 25. 

Only Swiss citizens, Swiss resident permit-holders, those entering the country for professional reasons (e.g., those who work here and have a permit to prove it), essential health workers, those transiting through or “in a situation of absolute necessity”, can currently enter Switzerland.External link  

Strict Swiss border controls remain in place for the foreseeable future. However, last week the Federal Council announcedExternal link that from May 11 it would slightly ease lockdown measures, processing the backlog of applications made by non-Swiss citizens to work or rejoin family in Switzerland.  

Slow easing among neighbours 

Germany is slowly starting to reopen and ease coronavirus measures. But on the German side of the border, people who are neither German nor permanent residents may only enter Germany if they have a valid reason to travel. EU citizens travelling through Germany to their home country or truck drivers are allowed to enter the country, for example. Entry is also restricted to certain border crossings.

Austria is also preparing for a gradual, secure and monitored re-opening. Temporary land border controls remain in place with neighbours until May 7. People travelling to Austria from neighbouring countries like Switzerland must currently produce a valid medical certificate proving a negative Covid-19 test result upon entry. The certificate cannot be older than 4 days when entering Austria. Without the certificate, entry will be denied. Meanwhile, passenger train services between Austria and Switzerland remain suspended and there is limited air traffic.

France also imposed strict border restrictions – only residents, cross-border worker, health workers and people in transit can enter after completing an entry certificate. However, it is preparing to gradually lift lockdown measures from May 11. The authorities said on Sunday that when it comes into effect it would not quarantine anyone arriving from the EU, the Schengen area, which includes Switzerland, or Britain.

At the moment - and this will continue until at least May 18 - travel into and within Italy is heavily restricted and limited to emergencies, work and health reasons. 

Links to further sources on  travelling to and staying in Switzerland

The State Secretariat for MigrationExternal link: updated information on the situation at the Swiss borders, with a helpline to answer questions about refusal of entry into Switzerland and the exceptions. 
The Swiss foreign ministryExternal link: information in French, German and Italian about the situation regarding foreign travel and the steps to be followed by Swiss citizens going abroad  

The Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH)External link: live updates of the national situation, as well as recommendations, public safety measures, and details of upcoming announcements.

Follow SWI hereExternal link, on FacebookExternal link, and on TwitterExternal link for timely updates on the situation in Switzerland. 

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