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Coronavirus fallout Canton Ticino orders non-essential industry to cease production

Factory production line

Production lines must temporarily halt their activities.

(© Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

The southern Swiss canton of Ticino, which borders Italy, has ordered factories and production lines to temporarily close to combat the spread of coronavirus. The order has been branded excessive by a leading manufacturing association.

Ticino is one of the cantons that has been hardest hit by the pandemic in Switzerland. Industry has been ordered to cease production unless it relates to critically important areas such as healthcare, food or agriculture. The order provisionally covers the week beginning Monday March 23.

Factories that cannot simply turn off the switch straight away will be given time to wind down their production lines.

In common with the rest of Switzerland, Ticino has already closed down non-essential high street shops and services. This was ordered by the federal authorities under the powers of the Epidemics Act.

But the canton has now decided on further measures, affecting manufacturing, that may bring it into conflict with the federal government. The Justice ministry has already voiced concern about a curfew imposed on the over-65s in Uri, telling the central Swiss canton to re-think its decision.

Hans Hess, president of the Swissmem industrial group that represents various manufacturing sectors, told Swiss public television SRF that Ticino’s industrial closure is unnecessary and damaging. “A complete shutdown, as in Ticino, is not in the interests of citizens,” he said. “It will lead to supply problems in the country.”

“I hope Ticino will come to its senses and retract these measures, just as Uri had to do with its over-65 curfew.”

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