Cross-Border Workers Excluded from New Travel Restrictions

Cross-Border Workers Excluded from New Travel Restrictions

12 February 2021

Switzerland has introduced new travel restrictions, effective from 8th February, due to the spread of coronavirus mutations, but those won’t affect cross-border workers.


New Travel Rules

                New travel restrictions require filling out an electronic entry form that one need to show at a border when immigration or passport control demands it. However, excluded from such obligation are travellers from France, Germany, Austria and Italy, provided they do not travel by air. This rule applies also to cross-border workers who doesn’t have to show any additional document upon passing the border. Additionally those travellers that are above 12 years old and come to Switzerland by airplane must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test, made not more than 72 hours before departure. Also, those who arrive by bus, train, car must provide such negative test if they have been in a country with an increased risk of infection.


Cross-Border Workers Excluded

                As we mentioned, cross-border workers who hold G permit and are, as defined by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), “foreign nationals who are resident in a border zone and are gainfully employed within the neighbouring border zone of Switzerland”, do not have to follow any new restrictions for travellers. This decision was made due to the fact that cross-border workers are essential for the Swiss economy. Especially now when due to the pandemic, lockdowns, overvalued exchange rate of CHF it is facing many challenges, while the Swiss GDP is decreasing.


Important for Health Care

                Cross-border workers are one of those often in the front-line fight with the COVID-19 pandemic. In Geneva one in four jobs is held by cross-border employee and 60 percent of nurses at university hospitals commute from abroad, with 9 percent of doctors being cross-border workers. The spokesperson of Geneva University Hospital HUG stated that around 3,200 caregivers out of 5,200 commute from France to work. This not isolated case and many hospitals won’t be functioning properly without cross-border employees. In Ticino 500 nurses and 120 doctors commute from Italy to work in health sector. In Basel, that has border both with Germany and France, around 2,000 cross-border workers come every day from both countries to work in Swiss hospitals. Authorities clearly see that any lost of foreign workforce would cause enormous crisis in Swiss hospitals.


Essential for Economy

                Obviously, cross-border workers are employed also in other Swiss industries, mainly construction, restaurant, hotel sector. Generally, more than 332,000 cross-border employees are holding jobs in Switzerland, with around 125,000 only in the region round Lake Geneva composed of the cantons of Vaud and Geneva. Another 70,000 cross-border commuters are employed in north-western Switzerland, that shares border with Germany and France, and 68,000 employees commute to work from Italy to the neighbouring canton of Ticino. That is why not only now, but also previously, during the first wave of COVID-19 in the spring 2020 restrictions introduced due to the pandemic were not imposed on cross-border workers in order to facilitate them coming to work every day.