Hundreds of British tourists fled the upmarket Swiss ski resort of Verbier in a “cloak-and-dagger operation” in the past week, breaking quarantine rules retroactively put in place to contain the spread of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in the UK.
Following the detection of the new mutation of COVID-19 in England, Swiss authorities announced on Monday last week that all people who had arrived from the UK since Dec. 14 would need to self-isolate for 10 days from their date of arrival.
The new quarantine rules also applied to hundreds of British tourists who had planned to spend the Christmas break in Verbier, an Alpine village nicknamed “Little London” by the locals due to the British visitors, who make up 20 percent of tourists during a typical winter season.
Swiss authorities tracked down 420 visitors from the UK, who were told to quarantine, but, according to a report in SonntagsZeitung, at least half of them fled the resort in “clandestine” fashion, with some later reporting back to their hotels from France.
“Many of them stayed in quarantine for a day before setting off under the cover of darkness,” regional communications officer Jean-Marc Sandoz said.
Some tourists later contacted their hotels to find out whether they still had to pay for the nights they had initially booked.
There were “xenophobic resentments” against British tourists in the resort, SonntagsZeitung reported.
“Anyone who speaks English is suspicious,” it said.
“Many people are unfairly denounced and accused of breaking the quarantine instructions — only because of their language,” Sandoz said.
Swiss media quoted an elderly woman from London, who had self-isolated in her second home in Verbier, as saying: “For days I was put under general suspicion. It was unbearable.”
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