BERN, SWITZERLAND – A roundup of news from the federal government in Bern: Swiss citizens who are frequent travelers to the US may want to take part in the US Global Entry programme, following the signature 16 December of a declaration of intent by the two countries.
The federal government issued a statement saying it is pleased that two parliamentary motions have been dropped, to charge drunks for hospital treatment and jail time. The debates have nevertheless provided “the opportunity for a fresh start” for a countrywide alcohol abuse programme.
Bern Friday morning issued its annual forecast for holiday traffic jams to help travelers plan accordingly and consider alternative routes and travel times.
Global Entry, startup date not yet set
A date has not been set for Switzerland’s participation in the Global Entry programme, which is described by the US Department of Homeland Security as:
“a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports … Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment. While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States.”
The UK recently joined the programme and British citizens have had the option to apply since 3 December. They pay a £42 application fee, then $100 for a five-year membership if accepted to the programme.
Swiss citizens would be cleared by the Swiss government, which will now begin to put in place a clearance programme based on US eligibility rules.
Christmas, New Year car travel – avoid queues
The Swiss federal highway department cautions drivers that between Saturday 19 December and 10 January several traffic jams are likely to build up during peak travel times.
Heaviest traffic days:
List of busiest routes, mountain pass closures and customs posts
Making drunks pay is not the best option
The Swiss government would like to see a stronger prevention programme in place to reduce alcohol abuse, the Federal Council on Problems Linked to Alcohol said after two parliamentary motions were withdrawn.
One was originally designed to protect young people from abusing alcohol through a complete overhaul of the national alcohol abuse programme, while the other focused on making people, including young people, pay for their hospitalization and any additional costs for treatment, transport and damages while heavily under the influence.
The problem for the council with both motions, which were adapted during parliamentary debates, is that they shifted the emphasis away from prevention. Abuse is a complex public health problem that needs to be treated in context, the group says in a press release. “To fight alcohol abuse effectively, the causes of it must be dealt with on a larger scale. The measures that are considered most effective cover pricing, limiting the hours when alcohol is available and banning “bait advertising” to pull in drinkers with deals that encourage heavier consumption.