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‘Help is coming’: What you need to know about Switzerland’s new emergency coronavirus measures

'Help is coming': What you need to know about Switzerland's new emergency coronavirus measures
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
From injecting money into the economy to restricting social interactions of more than five people, the Swiss government on Friday announced a range of steps to minimise the impact of the coronavirus.

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The measures were announced on Friday afternoon by Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset.

While stopping short of imposing a curfew, they represent the most extreme measures yet in curbing the spread of the virus along with minimising its economic impact. 

The measures are to be put in place from midnight on Friday, March 20th. 

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CHF32 billion in economic support

Berset announced that an additional 32 billion francs in economic support would be made available for those affected by the coronavirus, bringing the total available to CHF40 billion. 

While the specific nature of the economic support has not been made clear as yet, Berset said it would be targeted at all of those affected by the economic crisis which has resulted from the virus. 

The funds are expected to be targeted at businesses who have felt the brunt of the economic uncertainty, as well as those who are self employed and apprentices.

Sport and culture will also be supported. Professional sports clubs will be eligible to receive a share of CHF50 million, while sporting organisations will also be eligible for a share of CHF50 million if they are in danger of going out of business.

The Swiss cultural sector – which is defined as including performing arts, design, film, visual art, literature, music and museums – will be supported by a sum of CHF280 in emergency aid. 

The self-employed are to be paid a compensation for loss of earnings. 

The money is expected to be provided as a daily payment which amounts to 80 percent of pre-coronavirus daily earnings. 

The amount can be up to CHF196, although more information is expected to follow. 

Parents are also entitled to compensation if they need to stop working to look after children. 

No groups of more than five people

Although the federal government did not put in place curfews, groups of more than five people are to be banned. 

This includes gatherings in all public places, including going for walks and visiting parks. 

Police can fine individuals who break this rule up to CHF100. 

This limit also applies in some workplaces such as construction sites as well as in employee break rooms. 

Weekend grocery and parcel deliveries

Online shops will now be allowed to deliver groceries on the weekend, having previously been restricted from doing so.

Parcel deliveries can also now take place seven days a week.  

Everything remains on the table

Although the measures are significant, Berset said that more extreme steps remained on the table. 

“By introducing these measures, the Federal Council wants to avoid even further-reaching measures” Berset said. 

“Help is coming” Berset said. “Above all, it is important that we protect people who are the most at risk.” 

The cantons have also been given the freedom to put in place restrictions which they consider to be relevant, with Zurich and Bern both banning people from public parks and Uri putting in place a forced quarantine on all people above 65. 

Berset called upon younger people – many of whom have continued to meet and interact – to take on board a greater degree of responsibility. 

“It is also their concern (younger people). We are all concerned. It is a responsibility that must be taken on board.”

“We have to act together.”

 

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