Swiss ‘shopping tourists’ to be fined by border guards

Swiss residents hopping the border for cheaper goods will be fined for hindering the work of border guards.

Swiss customs - reuters
Swiss custom officers have been tightly controlling the Swiss-French border during the coronavirus outbreak [Pierre Albouy/Reuters]

Switzerland will fine shoppers who ignore coronavirus-related border restrictions in their hunt for good deals in neighbouring countries, the government said on Thursday.

Residents of high-price Switzerland during normal times often visit Austria, France, Germany and Italy to take advantage of generally lower prices and the ability to recoup value-added taxes even on groceries.

Switzerland’s borders have been closed for such trips to help slow the pandemic’s spread, but its border police said it has observed “border-crossing shopping activities” that have taxed its resources.

“When returning to Switzerland, a fine of 100 francs ($104) will be charged if there is obviously a case of shopping tourism and the border was crossed exclusively for this purpose,” the government said. “It is not the purchasing itself that is punished, rather hindering the work of border guards.”

People will continue to be able to cross borders for work, to care for sick relatives, and for ongoing medical treatment, among other valid reasons to travel to neighbouring countries.

The Swiss death toll from the novel coronavirus has exceeded 1,000, but the rate of infections has slowed, and the government is preparing to loosen other restrictions in the country starting on April 27.

Source: Reuters