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Covid-19  Border restrictions relaxed for cross-border couples 

people meeting, separated by border fence

Scenes like this one on the Swiss-German border at Kreuzlingen and Konstanz will soon be a thing of the past

(Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller)

Good news for people with partners, relatives or a second home in neighbouring Germany or Austria: coronavirus border restrictions between Switzerland and these countries will be relaxed from Saturday. 

“Thanks to the positive developments regarding the coronavirus pandemic, reflected in a sharp drop in the number of infections, Germany, Austria and Switzerland have decided to lift the travel restrictions that currently apply to unmarried couples in cross-border relationships,” a government statement said on Friday.external link 

Previously only couples who were married, in registered partnerships or who had children together were allowed to travel to see each other under restrictions imposed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

“We have received thousands of enquiries from bi-national couples in the past weeks,” Mario Gattiker, the state secretary for migration, said at a news conference. The measures announced would improve their “cross-border reality of their lives”. 

The confirmation comes two days after Switzerland said it was planning to gradually re-open its borders and re-introduce free movement of people with Germany, France and Austria by mid-June. 

+ Swiss to re-open borders with neighbouring countriesexternal link  

Family events and allotments  

Trips for special family events such as weddings or funerals in Austria and Germany will also be allowed, Gattiker said. 

Restrictions are also being lifted for those who have a property, need to tend to allotments, or to maintain agricultural or hunting land or woodland. A further reason is to care for animals. 

Those wishing to make use of the new rules must complete a self-declaration form and present it at the border. The form can be downloaded from the websites of the respective ministries and printed out. Further details are in the statementexternal link

On Friday evening it was announced that the double fence at Kreuzlingen (Switzerland) and Constance (Germany) - that had kept families and lovers apart - was being dismantled .

+Gallery: Cross-border love in the time of Covid-19

France and Italy: not yet 

The rules do not yet apply to France, Gattiker said, although an easing is planned for mid-June. The frontier to Italy, hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, is to remain closed. As soon as the situation changes, talks will take place, reassured Gattiker. 

Gattiker added that there were still quarantine restrictions in the neighbouring German state of Baden-Württemberg, but that these would be phased out for citizens from the European Union and the European Free Trade Association over the next few days.

Italy said it will open its borders for foreign nationals from June 3. 

All border trips are subject to the hygiene measures enforced in the respective countries.

Still not allowed

Christian Bock, director of the Federal Customs Administration, added that coming into Switzerland for petrol, shopping or for tourism remained forbidden. There would still be risk-based checks at the borders, he added.

swissinfo.ch with Keystone-SDA/ilj, ug

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