Party leaders call for tougher Covid measures at Swiss borders

Currently, only those arriving from countries on the "risk list" of the Federal Office of Public Health must go into quarantine after arriving in Switzerland. Keystone / Alexandra Wey

Leaders of the six biggest political parties in the country have sent a joint letter to the federal government, urging it to put in place a strict testing and quarantine regime for all travellers, in a bid to limit the spread of the new coronavirus variants.

This content was published on January 24, 2021 - 12:17

The measures demanded by leaders of the Swiss People’s Party, the Social Democrats, the Centre Party, the Radical-Liberals, the Greens and the Green-Liberals “break previous taboos”, according to the SonntagsZeitung. They target all people entering Switzerland, including cross-border workers, and would require them to present a negative coronavirus test result at airports and border crossings, in addition to then going into quarantine.

Depending on the situation in the country of origin, travellers would need to enter either a standard or “light” quarantine. Exceptions could be made for people from “the very few countries that are officially considered coronavirus-free, such as Taiwan,” leader of the Radical-Liberals, Petra Gössi, told the newspaper.

Cross-border workers, meanwhile, would need to be tested regularly, such as every three days. Up until now, only the People’s Party had called for travel restrictions on commuters.

Strictly limiting the number of people entering Switzerland “is the only way we can protect the health of the population and the effect of the measures [already] in place,” said Green-Liberals leader, Jürg Grossen, who initiated the joint letter.

Tough measures in France

Currently, only those arriving from a country where the rate of infection is greater than Switzerland’s must go into quarantine. The list of countries affected by this policy is regularly updated by the Federal Office of Public Health.

Starting Sunday, anyone entering France will need to present a negative coronavirus test result. This requirement applies only at airports and not at land borders, train stations or ports, a Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed to the news agency Keystone-SDA on Sunday. 

According to the SonntagsZeitung, the European Union (of which Switzerland is not a member) is considering imposing testing and quarantine requirements on those arriving from countries where the virus is widespread, and discouraging non-essential travel in general.

Large-scale rapid testing under consideration

Keystone-SDA also confirmed that, in an effort to get the virus under control, the Federal Council has sent a proposal to the cantons for mass testing in schools, care homes and businesses. The rapid tests would be paid for by the state and the approach would be based on the model used by canton Graubunden, which plans to complete 20,000 tests per week starting this Wednesday.

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