Coronavirus: Easing of travel restrictions between Austria, Germany and Switzerland

Keywords: Immigration | Pandemic

Press Release, SEM, 15.05.2020

The borders between Switzerland, Germany and Austria are to open again for unmarried couples in long-term cross-border relationships, and for those wishing to visit relatives or attend important family events. Restrictions will also be lifted for people who own a property for personal use, tend allotments, or maintain agricultural or hunting land or woodland. People needing to take care of animals may also cross the border.

Thanks to the positive developments regarding the coronavirus pandemic, reflected in a sharp drop in the number of infections, Germany, Austria and Switzerland have decided to lift the travel restrictions that currently apply to unmarried couples in cross-border relationships. The easing of these restrictions will come into effect at midnight tonight. The border control authorities have been notified accordingly.

A memorandum of understanding to this effect has been signed by the Federal Department of Justice and Police (State Secretariat for Migration), the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community and the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior. These conditions also apply for persons wishing to visit relatives or attend an important family event, as well as for persons who have a property, tend an allotment, or hold agricultural and hunting land or woodland in a neighbouring country, or who have to look after animals. Until further notice, persons wishing to enter Austria to tend, maintain or use property must have a primary or secondary residence there. To enter Austria, property owners will still be required to produce a medical certificate, not more than four days old, stating that the holder has tested negative for SARS-CoV-2.

Anyone wishing to make use of this exception must complete a self-declaration form and present it at the border. The form can be downloaded from the websites of the respective ministries and printed out. Property owners should offer additional proof in the form of land register certificate or a rental agreement. Persons making false declarations or abusing the rules may be prosecuted under the law in the country concerned. All other travel restrictions remain in place for the time being. The public health requirements and recommendations valid in the relevant state will of course apply to those entering the country during their stay.

In order to further ease the movement of goods and people, particularly cross-border commuters, the three states have also agreed to reopen border crossings wherever possible and to closely coordinate checks. The Federal Customs Administration has already opened 20 border crossings since the beginning of April.

As long as the epidemiological situation allows, all remaining travel restrictions between Switzerland, Germany, Austria and France should be lifted from 15 June under an agreement reached between the relevant ministries of the four countries. All travel restrictions at the border to Italy will remain in place until further notice. Discussions about easing restrictions will take place with the Italian authorities as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.

On 29 April, the Federal Council decided to gradually ease coronavirus-related entry restrictions in parallel with steps to reopen the economy. The first steps came into force on 11 May. Further steps will follow as long as the epidemiological situation allows. The Federal Council will discuss the next stage of easing entry and residence restrictions at its meeting on 27 May.

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