May 8, 2020 / 12:56 PM / a month ago

Swiss to lift some migration curbs, sets COVID-19 tracing app tests

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland will further ease curbs on migration from Europe while considering opening borders with neighbours, the government said on Friday as it detailed the latest, step-by-step easing of limits enacted to contain the new coronavirus.

Bern also said it would test this month a voluntary contact tracing app for smartphones meant to alert people if they have been too near people who test positive for the coronavirus.

The system, part of the nation’s long-term strategy to contain COVID-19 and avoid being overwhelmed by a second wave, could go live once parliament addresses the measure in June.

As migration resumes, the government said initial steps include processing a backlog of applications from people seeking work in Switzerland. For Swiss citizens as well as for those from the European Union, family reunification in Switzerland should also be possible again, Bern said.

“The controls at the border will continue,” the government said. “Border crossings will be opened in consultation with the domestic and foreign partner authorities and communicated accordingly.”

After previously announcing that restaurants could open starting on Monday, Switzerland laid out rules to ensure customer and employee safety.

Among other things, waiters and guests will not be required to wear masks, even as kitchen personnel may have to. Only four people or parents with children are allowed at tables, which must two metres (6.5 feet) apart or separated by dividing walls.

Restaurants must ask for contact details from guests, who are not required to give them.

The government also backed 65 million Swiss francs ($67 million) in aid for day care centres after parliament supported the move this week.

Reporting by John Miller and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Michael Shields

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