Cantons protest as Belgium puts them on coronavirus risk list

Belgium has put three Swiss cantons around Lake Geneva on a coronavirus risk list, but two of them are protesting. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

The Western Swiss cantons of Valais and Vaud are protesting a decision by Belgium to put them on a list of European regions where tourists can no longer go because of a resurgence of coronavirus. 

This content was published on August 2, 2020 - 17:24

Belgium decided on Saturday to add them and canton Geneva to this list. People returning to Belgium from the three Swiss cantons around Lake Geneva must be tested for the virus and go into quarantine.

Vaud’s cantonal economics minister Philippe Leuba said on Sunday that the Belgian decision was “incomprehensible” and that Vaud was asking the federal government to intervene with Belgium. Over the last 14 days the rate of infection is 23 per 100,000 inhabitants in Vaud and 10 in Valais, whereas in Belgium it is 44, so Vaud’s rate is almost half Belgium’s, according to Leuba.

Switzerland’s criteria for a risk zone is an infection rate of 60 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Leuba added that Belgium’s decision was bad for tourism and for the image of his region. Vaud health minister Rebecca Ruiz told Swiss television RTS they were asking to know the criteria on which the decision was based.

Valais economics minister Christophe Darbellay said the Belgian decision was “incomprehensible” and “shocking”, and his canton is also asking for federal government intervention. “Canton Valais is controlling Covid-19 well. The situation in Geneva is much more alarming.”

Geneva on Friday ordered nightclubs to close until August 23, following a new spike in cases, and cantonal health minister Mauro Poggia told Sunday newspaper Le Matin Dimanche that further measures were possible if the number of cases continues to rise. Canton Geneva now accounts for about one third of new cases in Switzerland.

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