Protecting the Swiss public against the spread of the coronavirus continues to be the highest priority for the Federal Council. Any easing of the restrictions on entry into Switzerland or on allowing foreign citizens to work or stay in the country will only take place once the epidemiological situation permits. That said, the Federal Council also wants to minimise the negative impact of restricting entry into the country on the economy. By easing the restrictions gradually, the impact of each step can be assessed and decisions made about further stages, considering at all times developments in the epidemiological situation and on the labour market. These measures are being closely discussed with Switzerland's neighbouring countries.
The following initial steps to ease the lockdown on movement of people will come into effect on 11 May:
- The cantons will process all applications for residence permits and cross-border commuter permits submitted by workers from an EU or EFTA member state before the introduction of entry restrictions (25 March). The same applies for notification of commencement of work for short deployments with an employer in Switzerland and for cross-border services provided for a maximum of 90 days a year.
- New notifications for cross-border services will again be processed in accordance with the usual terms of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons provided the service provision is based on a written contract signed before 25 March 2020. For example, a mechanic from Germany may install a machine previously ordered by a Swiss company.
- Workers from third countries who already have a permit to work in Switzerland, but who were not issued a visa because of the restrictions imposed on entry, are now permitted to enter the country.
- Applications to employ persons from third countries submitted before the restrictions on this category came into effect (19 March) will now be processed. They will be approved provided the provisions of the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act are met and the person(s) in question can actually take up the position.
- Family reunification for family members of Swiss citizens is again possible. The same applies for family members of people from EU/EFTA states living in Switzerland.
- The current border controls will continue. Additional border crossings will be opened in order to avoid excessive waiting times. Flights from abroad will still only be able to land at Zurich, Geneva or Basel airports so that sufficient border controls can be made.
All other restrictions on cross-border movement will remain in place for the time being. However, the Federal Council has already discussed a further easing of the lockdown in this area. A decision has been taken in principle that from 8 June it will be possible to process applications from all workers from EU and EFTA states who are actually able to take up their employment in Switzerland, if the epidemiological situation so permits. This second step in the easing of the lockdown will be taken in consultation with the cantons and social partners. The requirement to give notification of job vacancies, which has been temporarily suspended, will also be reactivated.
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