On Friday March 20th, the Swiss government put in place a range of new measures and restrictions in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus and its economic impacts.
Most significant of these was a requirement that Swiss residents do not congregate in groups of more than five people.
The Swiss government has been monitoring mobile phone data in order to see whether the population is complying with coronavirus restrictions – or whether more severe measures should be put in place.
As reported by The Local Switzerland on March 24th, the government had considered whether or not to put in place additional curfews which would start with a lockdown after 6pm at night, eventually extending to a 24-hour lockdown similar to that seen in Italy or Spain.
However, speaking at a press conference on Thursday, March 26th, the head of Communicable Diseases at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) Daniel Koch indicated that the existing measures would remain in place for now.
Koch also allayed concerns about the collection of the data, saying it was “not surveillance” and it was instead used anonymously and was only being used to determine adherence with the restrictive coronavirus measures.
“We are purely looking at representations of mobility in public space”.
On Wednesday, Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset said the Swiss public “should not be afraid of surveillance”, saying it was only used to make sure people were not breaking the rules once outside.
Berset indicated that mobile data would continue to be used to determine whether the public continued to comply with the requirements.
“The most important thing is that it stays that way.”