corona-virus 03 April 2020

Coronavirus: Swiss ban exports of face masks and slap entry restrictions on all Schengen states

Switzerland has restricted exports of face masks and protective equipment and entry controls on all Schengen states, as it battles the coronavirus pandemic that has already claimed more than 400 lives in the country.

Meanwhile, France reversed an export ban on face masks going to Switzerland, where the government says more than two million are needed every day.

‘Licenses will now be needed to export masks, gloves, goggles and swabs as of March 26,’, the international service of Switzerland’s public broadcaster, quoted the government as saying. ‘Exceptions to the licensing requirement will apply to the EU as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein ‘as long as they treat Switzerland the same way.’

Economics Minister Guy Parmelin said the decision was in line with EU regulations.

‘It is a precautionary measure and is not intended to create more problems,’ he said. ‘It’s the least we can do for the Swiss population to avoid a shortage of necessary medical equipment in an emergency situation.’

Meanwhile, Swiss media said France had lifted restrictions on exports of face masks to Switzerland, following the lead of Germany, which sparked a diplomatic uproar last month when it stopped a truckload of face masks from crossing into Switzerland.

Last week, the Swiss government also imposed entry restrictions on all other 25 Schengen states, according to official Swiss media reports.   

Citizens of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, people with a Swiss residence permit, and people who have to travel to Switzerland for work-related reasons or because of an emergency will continue to be allowed to enter the country. Travelers may continue to transit through Switzerland and movements of goods is still permitted.