What tougher coronavirus rules could Switzerland announce this week?

What tougher coronavirus rules could Switzerland announce this week?
All non-essential businesses may soon close. Photo by AFP
In the draft ordinance submitted to the cantons, the Swiss government outlines tougher measures it wants to implement to curb the spread of Covid-19.

NOTE: Switzerland will go into a stricter lockdown from January 18th. More information is available here. 

Authorities announced last week they would extend current restrictions from January 22nd until the end of February. 

But the final decision will be made on Wednesday, after consultation with the cantons.

“The epidemiological situation remains tense: the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths, as well as the burden on health workers, remains very high,” the government said in a statement.

READ MORE: Why is Switzerland set to extend coronavirus measures?

The Swiss media, which got access to the draft documents, reports that stricter measures would include the closure of all businesses except the essential ones, until the end of February. 

This means all the retailers, with the exception of pharmacies and shops selling food, would have to close, along with personal services like hairdressers and beauty parlours. The measures would be similar to the partial shutdown that was in force during the first wave of the pandemic last spring.

Also, working from home would become compulsory whenever possible.

If remote working is not an option, then masks will be mandatory inside buildings, as soon as several people are present in the same room, even if the safety distances of 1.5 metres can be respected.

Bern is proposing these stricter measures as it expects a sharp increase in the number of cases of patients infected with the UK variant of the virus. It could represent 30 percent of contaminations within the next five weeks, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said.

The mutated variant, believed to have first appeared in the London and Kent areas of the UK in September 2020, is reported to be up to 70 percent more contagious than other strains.

Another possible change would be to further limit the number of people that can meet in public or in private in Switzerland.

Currently, gatherings in public spaces are capped at 15 people, while a maximum of 10 people can meet in private with friends and family.

Since December 22nd, restaurants and bars, as well as sports, cultural and leisure facilities, had been closed.

However, delivery and take-out services remain possible. Company and school canteens, as well as hotel restaurants, are also continuing their activities for the time being.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s current coronavirus measures?


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