June 5th, 2020 (AFP) -Swiss authorities had already announced in mid-May plans to reopen the country's borders with its immediate neighbours, except Italy, on that date, and to the rest of the Schengen passport-free area by early July.
But with most European countries appearing to gain significant control over their COVID-19 outbreaks, Bern said in a statement that the “epidemiological situation” made a faster and broader opening possible.
The non-EU member said it would now be possible to welcome travellers from the bloc along with those from fellow members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
A spokeswoman for the justice ministry confirmed to AFP that Italy — the country in Europe that has been hardest-hit by the pandemic — was included in the decision.
As recently as this week, Swiss authorities said they would not be opening the border with Italy until July, as the country’s rate of infections was not yet low enough.
Italy itself opened its borders to other Schengen countries earlier this week, and asked others to do the same.
Friday's decision was reached after a virtual meeting between interior ministers from the Schengen area, with a large number of European countries deciding to follow a similar path, Bern said in a statement.
The opening of borders coincides with the start of international travel, as Switzerland’s airlines are resuming some of their regular flights in June.