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‘Corona-compliant’ Alpine cow processions to go ahead

Some of around 600 cows climb the Glattalp last year, watched by spectators (Keystone)

The traditional driving of cows up to mountain pastures for the summer will still take place this year in Appenzell, northeastern Switzerland, despite the coronavirus pandemic. However, the processions will not be publicised so as not to attract tourists and spectators.

From the beginning of May to mid-June, farmers march hundreds of thousands of cows from their valley farms to mountain meadows – and then back them down again in early autumn. The descent in particular is a big event, with the cows wearing floral crowns and led through town by yodelling farmers, who are also dressed up in traditional attire.

This year the drives up the alp are to be made “corona-compliant”, the two Appenzell cantons said on Tuesday in a joint media statementexternal link.

“The current regulations and the recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) for the containment of coronavirus must be complied with,” they said.

“In contrast to the drives coming down the alp, which are advertised as tourist events, there are hardly any spectators on the way up. Furthermore, neither tourist organisations nor alpine farmers are allowed to make the dates of the alpine drives public this year.”

The cantons pointed out that it was forbidden for groups of more than five people to meet not only along roads but also on farms or up mountains.


Alpine farmers and their assistants will also have to comply with the FOPH’s regulations and recommendations to contain coronavirus during the drives up the alp.

As a guide on how to deal with this special situation, the agricultural offices of cantons Appenzell Inner Rhodes and Appenzell Outer Rhodes have prepared a leaflet which will be sent to all alpine farmers in the next few days.

The leaflet contains, above all, instructions on the rules of keeping distance, hygiene regulations and how people should act who are ill, feel ill or are particularly at risk.

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