At its meeting on 27 May, the Federal Council decided to further relax the entry restrictions imposed to protect the Swiss population against the spread of the coronavirus. The decision comes in light of the positive developments with respect to COVID-19. The move is in line with the next step to reopen the economy in order to minimise the negative economic impact of the crisis. This will allow companies in Switzerland to once again recruit urgently needed workers from EU/EFTA member states and from third countries if none are available from the Swiss workforce.
At the same time, the Federal Council has decided to reintroduce the requirement of giving notification of employment vacancies, allowing job seekers in Switzerland a time lead in the job application process. To promote the domestic workforce, the Federal Council intends to implement the package of supporting measures approved in May 2019.
Easing of restrictions from 8 June
The second stage of easing the lockdown follows in consultation with the cantons, the social partners and neighbouring states. From 8 June, the following measures will come into force:
- The cantons will again process all applications for a residence or cross-border commuter permit from workers from EU/EFTA member states. The same applies for notification of commencement of work for short-term deployments with an employer in Switzerland and for cross-border services for a maximum duration of 90 days per year.
- Applications to employ workers from third countries will also be processed again. Admission will be possible if the work assignment is in the public interest and, for example, is necessary to the national economic supply, or if a company urgently requires this skilled labour from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad.
- Family reunification will be possible again for all persons with a permanent residence permit, a residence permit, a short stay permit or who have been temporarily admitted to Switzerland, under the usual conditions.
- School pupils and students will be allowed to enter Switzerland to begin, continue or finish their studies, regardless of their nationality. This does not apply, however, to education and further training lasting less than 90 days.
- The cantons will begin processing applications again for a short stay permit from persons who wish to enter into marriage or a registered partnership with a Swiss or with a foreign national who has a residence or permanent residence permit.
- The Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA, in consultation with the Federal Department of Justice and Police FDJP and the Federal Department of Finance FDF, may order a medical examination at the border for certain groups of people, including a temperature reading, a health questionnaire or quarantine, for any person from a high-risk country listed in the COVID-19 Ordinance who wishes to enter Switzerland.
- Passenger flights from abroad will no longer be channelled to Zurich, Geneva or Basel airport.
The Federal Council eased entry restrictions for the first time with effect from 11 May. Since then the cantons have been processing applications from workers from EU/EFTA member states that were submitted before entry restrictions were imposed. The same applies to the notification of cross-border services, to applications to employ workers from third countries, and to business meetings that cannot be postponed. Family reunification for Swiss citizens and EU nationals has also been allowed again since that date.
Further easing of cross-broder travel from 15 June
The Federal Council has discussed the further easing of restrictions after 8 June. The relevant ministries in Switzerland, Germany, France and Austria agreed at the beginning of May to lift all travel restrictions between their respective countries on 15 June if the pandemic situation permits. In light of the positive trend with respect to the coronavirus in all four countries, the FDJP, in consultation with the FDHA and the Federal Departmenf of Foreign Affairs FDFA, will take the necessary steps to reopen the borders from 15 June, as previously announced, thereby abolishing all travel restrictions to these countries and re-establishing the free movment of persons.
Italy declared the lifting of internal border checks with its neighbours with effect from 3 June. Switzerland has informed Italy that in its view it is too early to lift border controls with Italy on that date. The Federal Council intends to coordinate that step with Italy, as well as possible health checks at the border with Italy and other neighbouring countries to Italy in the coming weeks. In doing so, the Federal Council will involve the border cantons, in particular Ticino, in these measures.
Travel restrictions to be lifted for all Schengen states from 6 July
If developments with respect to the pandemic in Switzerland and in the EU/EFTA permit, restrictions on entering, working and living in Switzerland will be lifted for all Schengen states from mid-June and no later than 6 July. The FDJP therfore plans to successively update the list of high-risk countries, in agreement with the FDHA, the FDFA and the EU/EFTA member states. The aim is to lift all travel restrictions and re-establish the complete free movement of persons across the Schengen area by this date.
The Federal Council will decide on lifting further entry restrictions for third countries at a later date and in consultation with the Schengen member states.
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