Changes at the border from 11 May


Starting today Switzerland will ease the restrictive measures that have been in place across the borders. Family reunification is allowed under certain conditions.

Changes at the border from 11 May
@ Archivio CdT

Changes at the border from 11 May

@ Archivio CdT

The pandemic resulted in the closure of almost all European borders. Strict restrictions on entering and leaving a country were in place and one of the very first orders put in place by the government to try to slow down the contagion curve. It felt like a long journey - in some Italian airports the only strategy in place was a thermometer to measure the body temperature of those who landed from other countries. Back in early February, COVID-19 seemed like it was something we had under control. Today, three months on, those innocent checks seem unbelievably naïve. Yes, the virus came and brought along with-it pandemonium in a violent fashion, taking hold of many. It has been deadly. It has been violent and now we are discussing the movements of how we blend into a ‘phase 2”, of relaxing measures. But what changes are happening at the borders? So, we asked...

Do not go to Italy

Let’s start from the beginning, lets refresh our memories. When did restrictions on the border begin? Looking back, it commenced on the second weekend of March: a confused Saturday and Sunday, especially for cross-border commuters. Prime Minister Conte, by decree ( the famous decree “freezes Lombardy” ) initially sowed panic among its Italian workers coming into Switzerland. Should you cross, shouldn’t you cross? The clarification arrived on the Sunday afternoon. A directive: holders of a permit G could enter Ticino, as long as they had a letter of accompaniment from their employer certifying the state of need. From Bern, there was only a word of advice to citizens which stated: “Do not go to Italy” from that day, cars crossing were controlled and the border was less busy – there was an escalation of strict measures in place from both sides.

Federal Authorisation

Contagions increased across Ticino. The first death was recorded in the canton. Pressure closed in on Bern to close borders, hour by hour concerns and reports were released. Meanwhile, on March 11 the cantonal government declared the state of urgency along with the strategy to gradually close all the secondary border crossings, enabling s more stringent control of the main ones. On March 13, the federal order-initiated prevention of crossing through Switzerland. When entering from Italy only Swiss citizens, residents, and people with professional (border) reasons and in situations of absolute necessity were authorised to enter. It was an important new chapter in the strategy of protecting national borders.

The three stages

Restrictions continued across the border. In Italy, another decree by the Prime Minister Conte closed national borders entirely on March 26th until Bern announced its plan to return to “normal” in three stages: April 27, May 11, and June 8.

Today May 11 we see phase 2 commence – border restrictions will be loosened. Family reunification in Switzerland will again be possible for Swiss and EU citizens.

But what exactly does that mean?

The regulations concern, in fact, Switzerland. Italy currently has numerous transit restrictions which will still be active. However, from today family members of people living in Switzerland will be able to arrive in from Italy, even if they do not hold residence permits or a Swiss passport. But be mindful: ‘only one-way border crossing is allowed’ in other words, those who return to Italy will have to comply with Italian regulations, which require a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Cross-border commuters and those traveling for health reasons are exceptions. For greater movement of people, we will have to wait longer. Much will depend on what the Italian government decides to do. The current rules will be in effect until May 17.

Valmara is to be reopened

The Valmara pass remains closed, and the mayors of the Intelvi Valley are not there . They demand that it be reopened to avoid collapse at the Gandria customs.

Holidays are not allowed

The reunification of family members means those who have permanent residence in Switzerland and are not visiting and holidaying in Switzerland.

Starting tomorrow, family members of Swiss citizens and EU / EFTA citizens with residence permits L, B and C will be able to reunite with their families. In the case of third-country nationals, the spouse, and children up to the age of 18 are considered family members. In the case of EU / EFTA citizens, family reunification is possible for spouses and children up to 21 years of age or older if they are granted maintenance.

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