Switzerland extends coronavirus lockdown measures until April 26th

Switzerland extends coronavirus lockdown measures until April 26th
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Switzerland has announced the coronavirus lockdown measures will be extended until April 26th, however a plan for how to emerge from lockdown will be released on Thursday, April 16th.

The existing lockdown end date was April 19th, however at a press conference on Wednesday, President Simonetta Sommaruga said it was necessary to extend them further.

Despite calls from politicians in some cantons – and particularly from members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party – to emerge from the lockdown earlier, few thought such a move was likely. 

Sommaruga however said that the government was working through plans to properly emerge from the lockdown and would release a “step-by-step plan” on April 16th which detailed how the country would emerge from the lockdown. 

At the same press conference, Interior Minister Alain Berset said that physical distancing and hygiene measures would remain in place “for a long time”. 

“A relaxation is within sight,” he said. 

“We can say that, finally, we are beginning to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”

The President also said that the government was reluctant to relax measures in some cantons but not in others, as this may create tension between the cantons. 

German-speaking Switzerland pushing for an earlier end to restrictions

A poll taken on Wednesday, April 8th, showed that German-speaking Switzerland was in favour of loosening the restrictions earlier than respondents in other parts of the country. 

Respondents in German-speaking parts of the country have called for the restrictions to be relaxed earlier, particularly in retail stores, schools and hair dressers. 

When asked which should be opened earliest, 58 percent of German-speaking Swiss said retail stories should be allowed to open – compared with 34 percent of both French and Italian-speaking Switzerland. 

In schools, there was a similar gap, with 48 percent of German-speaking Swiss calling on schools to re-open earlier, compared with just 16 and 17 percent in French and Italian-speaking Switzerland respectively. 

The impacts of the coronavirus have been far less severe in the German-speaking parts of the country than the rest. 

As at Thursday, April 9th, of the cantons in which the infected rate has gone above 2,000, only one – Zurich – is in the German-speaking part of the country. Ticino has had more than 2,000 confirmed infections, while Geneva and Vaud have both had more than 4,000. 

Ticino (211), Vaud (172) and Geneva (118) are also the only cantons to have more than 100 fatalities from the virus. 

 


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