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Coronavirus Army sent to help on Swiss border

Swiss-German border at Basel

Keeping an eye on the Swiss-German border at Basel before the coronavirus outbreak

(Keystone)

Swiss military police officers and a militia battalion are providing support to the Federal Customs Administration (FCA), which is struggling to cope with the country’s tighter border policy during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Their assignment started on Friday and is limited until the end of June. 

Covid-19 Swiss militia soldiers get historic call up to fight coronavirus

The Swiss government is mobilising up to 8,000 members of the military to help the cantons fight the rapidly spreading coronavirus, Covid-19.

The support serves the “longer sustainability” of customs staff, the FCA said in a statementexternal link on Friday. The FCA cannot maintain tighter measures at the border and carry out the necessary checks elsewhere over the longer period, it said. 

The government has gradually tightened its borders with neighbouring countries in recent weeks, introducing border checks and restricted entry. The FCA has closed smaller border crossings and directed border traffic to larger crossings. 

For this reason, the finance ministry and the defence ministry applied for support from the army. This is within the framework the government’s historic mobilisation of up to 8,000 soldiers. Some 50 professionals from the military police and a militia battalion will help out along the border. 

The members of the army will work in different areas, such as security checks for passenger traffic, support with traffic regulations and the monitoring of border crossings and sections of terrain. 

The military personnel, who have been trained for these tasks, will be armed. Any violations by soldiers can be punished with fines or result in criminal proceedings, the statement said.


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