UPDATED: Switzerland imposes quarantine on arrivals from regions of France, Italy and Austria

As of Monday, September 14th, travellers from nine areas of France will have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Switzerland. However, border regions are exempted from the new rule.

UPDATED: Switzerland imposes quarantine on arrivals from regions of France, Italy and Austria

In a press conference on Friday, September 11th, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset announced that arrivals from French regions of Centre-Val de Loire, Hauts-de-France, Île de France, Normandy, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, Pays de la Loire, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur will be subjected to a 10-day quarantine.

The island of Corsica, as well as Austria’s capital, Vienna, will also be added to the list. 

On September 25th, Brittany was added, along with Upper and Lower Austria

Italy's Liguria region also made the cut, the first time a region of Italy has been added to the list. 

From October 12th, Campania, Venice and Sardinia have been added to Italy's list, along with Burgenland and Salzburg in Austria. 

The cities of Hamburg and Berlin were also added, making it the first time arrivals from Germany have had to quarantine under the current scheme. 

Only regions of border countries to make the list

In making the original announcement, Berset said that the government had decided to place nine of 13 French regions, including Paris, on its at-risk list, as well as Vienna in neighbouring Austria.

“We have seen a number of new infections in France, which are today already higher that the numbers in March and April,” he said, stressing that “this is a situation to take seriously… We're trying to keep the pandemic under control.”

EXPLAINED: Which countries quarantine travellers from France?

At the same time, he said, the government had sought a “pragmatic” approach and thus exempted the border regions in France and other neighbouring countries from the order, set to take effect from Monday.

“The idea is to preserve life along the borders where people live and work,” he said, pointing to heavy cross-border trade, as well as the many people who live on one side of the border but work on the other.

To define a risk area, Switzerland has set a limit of more than 60 coronavirus infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days.

In the nine French regions, as well as in Vienna, this number is exceeded, meeting the Swiss criteria for a risk country.

READ MORE: UPDATED: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's quarantine requirement

However, Berset said that regions of France and Austria bordering Switzerland will not be added to the list, as local economies depend on the cross-border workers.

That is especially the case in the Lake Geneva region, which relies heavily on over 125, 000 frontier workers from France.

“We have no intention of letting entire swathes of our economy to shut down”, Antonio Hodgers, president of the Geneva Council of State told Tribune de Genéve. 

In Geneva, some 60 percent of the city's health workers live in France.

The government also added France’s overseas territories to the countries at risk, meaning that all travellers from those regions will have to self-quarantine as well.

A government statement said it was following the lead of other European countries that are already implementing “a region-based approach to neighbouring countries.

“Taking a regional approach means that persons returning to Switzerland from risk areas will be required to go into quarantine, but not persons returning from regions on the Swiss border,” it said, adding that the decision takes “account of the close economic, social and cultural exchanges that take place in the border regions.” 

As for implementing the quarantine order, the government said it would “rely on members of the public to act responsibly.”

Switzerland itself has seen a steady rise in cases in recent months.

The country of 8.5 million people has counted more than 46,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and over 1,700 deaths.

Daily case numbers regularly topped the 1,000 mark in March, before sinking to single digits in mid-June. 

Since then, they have steadily risen, and on Friday topped 500 for the first time since April.




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European airlines demand end to quarantine ‘chaos’

European airlines on Tuesday urged national capitals to coordinate measures to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, saying the current patchwork of restrictions is hobbling a return to regular travel around the EU.

European airlines demand end to quarantine 'chaos'
A member of Charles de Gaulle airport personnel wears a protective face mask in the deserted passport control section of arrivals in Terminal 2 of Charles de Gaulle international airport in Roissy nea

The hurdles have included “chaotic border restrictions along with confusion about quarantines, varying passenger locator forms and test requirements,” Airlines For Europe (A4E) director Thomas Reynaert said in a press conference held by video.

To overcome the piecemeal measures, A4E urged a “common approach”, backing calls from the European Commission for a central colour-coded map of areas in the bloc where the virus risk, is high to enable restrictions by region rather than “blanket national restrictions”.

Passengers should have access to “quick and reliable Covid-19 tests” and quarantines should be downgraded to “an instrument of last resort”, the airline group said.

“Low-risk” travellers including pilots and cabin crew ought to be excluded from travel restrictions, the companies added.

The airlines' appeal to governments comes after August saw passenger traffic plateau at around 30 percent of its level a year ago, according to A4E's own figures.

“A unified European testing programme is urgently needed if we are to have any chance of restoring passenger confidence,” Reynaert said.

Greater EU-wide coordination should be made a “political priority”, Air France-KLM chief and A4E chairman Benjamin Smith said.

“Uncoordinated national measures over the last six months have had a devastating impact on freedom of movement.”