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Cross-Border Workers and Coronavirus

Last edit: 25.05.2020

Following the measures taken by authorities to fight the COVID-19 epidemy and more specifically the states of emergency declared in Switzerland and in France, here is a collection of useful information for workers crossing the Swiss-French border.

Physical Currency Exchange Offices Now Closed in Geneva

April 24 update: One week after announcing the shutdown of currency exchange offices, the state of Geneva reverts its decision and authorize them again to open.

To free you from those arbitrary decisions, to avoid non-essential trips and to avoid useless contacts with cash, we continue to recommend you to do your currency exchange online with ibani (and save this way on the exchange rate, better than banks or currency exchange offices).

April 20 update: The state of Geneva has announced the closure of all physical currency exchange offices on Friday 17 April, in accordance to federal government instructions.

If you used to use them to do your CHF-EUR operations, it is now the perfect occasion to switch to online currency exchange with ibani with better exchange rates than banks or currency exchange offices.

Who can work and who cannot?

Swiss authorities have taken measures to stop the activity of many businesses, targeting those being accessible to the public.

You will find below the list of all activities forbidden until further notice and those that can continue to operarte (source: Federal Office of Public Health).

Activities authorized again starting 8 June 2020

  • Secondary and tertiary schools as well as professional schools
  • Swimming pools
  • Gatherings of more than 5 persons
  • Theaters and cinemas
  • Zoos, botanical gardens and mountain lifts

Activities authorized again starting 11 May 2020

The Swiss Federal Council has reduced extraordinary measures under certain conditions, and as a result the following activities have been added to the 27 April's list of authorized activities starting 11 May 2020 (Source):

  • Travel agencies
  • Recreational sports activities not involving physical contact by individuals and in groups of up to 5 people (including coach, trainer or supervisor)
  • Classroom teaching of up to 5 people, including the teacher at upper secondary schools, higher education and other educational institutions (driving school, language schools)
  • Exams at educational institutions
  • Shops and markets
  • Museums, libraries and archives (excluding reading rooms)
  • Restaurants, bars and pubs under the condition of groups of maximum 4 persons or families with children. Customers must be seated.

Activities authorized again starting 27 April 2020

April 20 update:

  • Health professionals providing non-urgent services: medical practices, physiotherapists, osteopaths, ergotherapists, nutritionists, midwifes, acupuncture, opticians, dentists, psychotherapists, homeopaths, podiatrists, Chinese medicine therapists, etc.
  • DYI stores, garden centers and flower shops
  • Hairdressers, massages, beauty salons and tattoo studios

Forbidden Activities from 16 March 2020

  • Currency exchange offices
  • Any store not listed in the authorized list below
  • Restaurants
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Markets
  • Museums
  • Libraries
  • Movie theaters
  • Concert halls
  • Theaters
  • Casinos
  • Sport centers, clubs and gyms
  • Swimming pools
  • Wellness centers
  • Ski resorts
  • Botanic gardens and zoos
  • Erotic establishments
  • Mountain shelters

Authorized activities

  • Commercial businesses (offices, factories, workshops, etc.)
  • Construction sites (19.03.2020 edit: forbidden in Geneva starting 20.03.2020, partially forbidden in Vaud)
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Drugstores, pharmacies and any other medical device store
  • Food stores, supermarkets, bakeries, butcher's shops
  • Kiosks
  • Gas stations
  • Take-aways, cantinas and food delivery services
  • Hotel restaurants
  • Hotels, motels, hostels
  • Post offices
  • Telecom operators outlets
  • Banks
  • Train stations and public transports
  • Vehicle maintenance and repaire services
  • Public administrations
  • Social institutions

Home Office

If you work for an employer that is authorized to continue its activity according to the lists above but your job can be performed from home, your employer shouldn't be able to refuse you to work from home and should even encourage you to do so as well as provide you with the necessary means to do so.

Source: Federal Office of Public Health

Borders and Traffic

May 13 update:

Border crossings to and from Germany, Austria and France should be authorized again starting 15 June 2020.

April 20 update: French and Geneva authorities have announced the partial reopening of some border posts around Geneva. Some of them have specific opening hours, make sure to check details on the website of the Swiss Customs here:

Switzerland has restored border control with Italy on March 13, and with France and Germany on March 16.

For make this measure possible, many small border posts have been closed in order to focus customs resources on the main border crossings.

Full list of open and closed border posts

Map of open and closed border posts in the Geneva region:

Map of open and closed border posts in the Geneva region

Who can enter Switzerland?

  • People working in Switzerland
  • Swiss citizens
  • Holders of Swiss visas (permit B, C, G, etc.)
  • People in transit (going through Switzerland to go into another country)
  • Cargo traffic
  • Nationals from an EU or EFTA state with an announcement document (for professional activities or services up to 90 days per year) can enter Switzerland up to one day before starting a job or assignment
  • People with a family emergency explained with this document
  • Accompanied children going to a Swiss school
  • People accompanying a person who is allowed to enter Switzerland and who needs a special care can be authorized to drop or pick a person at the airport. Evidence of need of special care will be required.
  • It is possible to drop or pick someone directly into the French sector of Geneva airport (more info)

Medical staff

Medical staff working in Switzerland can obtain from their employer a "Covid-19 priority pass" badge allowing them to use the priority lanes when crossing border posts.

  • Bardonnex border post: priority lane PL, on the right of the platform.
  • Thônex-Vallard border post: priority lane through carsharing lane, on the left of the platform.
  • 19.03.2020 update: Boncourt border post: fully reserved to medical staff

Which documents must I have with me?

11 May update:

Starting May 11, France has restablished free circulation without the need for documents for trips below 100 km. Trips above that limit are possible in case of urgent, family or professional situations using that document.

For cross-border workers crossing the Swiss-French border to go to work, having with you your Swiss permit and an ID card is enough for the Swiss customs (source: State Secretariat for Migration).

If you are waiting to receive your new permit, have your employment contract with you.

Movement being forbidden in France, you must present the following documents to French police or customs officers in case of control to justify your trip (source: Ministère de l'intérieur):

  • You must fill and have with you your attestation de déplacement dérogatoire (link to PDF doc)
  • Your employer must fill and give you a justificatif de déplacement professionnel (link to PDF doc)

Salary

If your employer makes you work from home, you will continue getting your salary normally.

If no home office is possible but your employer still makes you stay at home, you will continue getting your salary normally.

If your employer has suspended your activity, he must continue paying you at least 80% of your salary. Many employers pay the remaining 20% to avoid impacting their employees.

More info on the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs website

Sick Leave

If you caught the coronavirus or any other disease justifying a sick leave, you will continue getting your salary and allowances according to the Swiss Code of Obligations and your employer's loss of earnings insurance.

Don't forget that you must immediately inform your employer if you are sick.

Childcare

If you couldn't find a solution to take care of your children following the closures of schools and that you must stay at home to take care of them, you must inform your employer and you will continue getting your salary and allowances according to the Swiss Code of Obligations and your employer's loss of earnings insurance.

Public Transports

Swiss public transports continue operating, although many restrictions and cuts have been announced. It is strongly recommanded to avoid taking public transports in any case, especially during rush hour, considering that they are a favorable place for contamination.

Purely touristic transport lines are suspended.

More info on the Swiss Railways website

More info on the Léman Express website

More info on the CGN website

Public and Private Events

In face of the exponential growth of COVID-19 cases on its territory, Swiss government has forbidden any public and private event until further notice, including sport events and events from associations, with an exception made for funeral services restricted to families.


About ibani

ibani is an online currency exchange service helping you make bank transfers in different currencies at a cheaper cost than your bank or your foreign exchange office.

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