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FESTIVALS

What’s On: Five fun things to do in Switzerland this weekend

From five franc cinema tickets to a street food festival in Geneva, here are some of the top ways to enjoy this weekend in Switzerland.

What's On: Five fun things to do in Switzerland this weekend
The Flammende Sterne fireworks festival is just across the border in Germany. Photo: Joachim Mell

1) Swiss Cinema Day (nationwide)

On Sunday September 1st, you can go to movies all over Switzerland (and Liechtenstein) for just five Swiss francs. The special deal covers over 500 screens. Visit the event website for details on participating cinemas.

2) Geneva Street Food Festival

After a successful run in June, Geneva’s festival of street food is making a return. It is running all weekend at the city’s Jardin Anglais park. Apart from the food, there are beer brewing and wine growing stands, along with a Sunday market, DJs and workshops for kids. Read more here.

3) Kandinsky, Arp, Picasso …Klee & Friends, Bern

This weekend marks the last chance to see this impressive exhibition featuring the works of Swiss born artist Paul Klee and friends including Wassily Kandinsky and Pablo Picasso. The works are on display at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, and Sunday is the final day. Here are the details (in English).

4) Flammende Sterne fireworks festival, Weil am Rhein (Germany)

While this festival is not technically in Switzerland, it is just over the border in Germany and is a great chance to see amazing fireworks. There are three nightly fireworks shows (one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday) featuring artists from Greece, China and Germany. See the festival site for ticket information.

Image: Flammende Sterne_Copyright Schenkl

5) Sion Festival

This festival of classical music in Sion in canton Valais features top performers around the world. This weekend is the culmination of the two-week long festival with two concerts on Saturday and one on Sunday. There are more details here (in English).

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SOCIETY

Allowing large gatherings in Switzerland ‘poses a significant risk’

Faced with the possibility that Swiss authorities will authorise gatherings of over 1,000 people from October 1st, health officials say the measure may spark the second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Allowing large gatherings in Switzerland ‘poses a significant risk’
Crowds of 1,000 people might be allowed from October 1st. Photo by AFP

The government announced last week that over 1,000 people will be allowed to get together from October 1st. The decision was made based on the “needs of society and the economic interests of sports clubs and cultural venues”. 

The current limit is 300.

Authorities did say that “strict protective measures will apply and the events will have to be authorised by the cantons, taking into account the local epidemiological situation and their contact tracing capacity”.

However, some health officials are sounding the alarm about the risks involved in allowing such a large number of people to congregate in one place while the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet under control.

“We are seeing a slow but inexorable increase in infections and outbreaks in Switzerland,” Philippe Eggimann, president of the Medical Society of French-Speaking Switzerland said in an interview with La Liberté newspaper. 

“It is not reasonable to open the way for more transmission opportunities,” he added.

READ MORE: 'We're on a dangerous slope': Swiss officials fear more Covid-19 cases as seasons change 

According to Eggimann, lifting the restriction on large assemblies would make it harder to trace contacts in the event of coronavirus infections, therefore “encouraging a second wave”.

He also noted that the re-opening of schools and the return from vacation will increase social interactions, and with it, the risk of exposure to the virus.

“In this context, allowing crowds of 1,000 people is a significant risk. It would have been safer to watch how things develop and only then make decisions,” he noted.

The warning comes as the number of Covid-19 infections in Switzerland became the highest since the worst of the pandemic in April.

The number of daily cases so far in August has exceeded 200 a day, rising nearly twofold from previous weeks.

That is a substantial surge from the month of June, when the count for daily cases was in the low two-digits. 

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