Since the virus was first detected in Switzerland at the end of February, the country has now undergone several weeks under lockdown.
With the first phase of easing lockdown restrictions having started on April 27th, the country is now headed back in the direction of normality, albeit slowly. Two more relaxations are planned for May and June.
We reached out to our most valuable resource – our readers – via social media to get a better idea of what life is like in Switzerland during the coronavirus crisis.
‘My views are spectacular but I don’t know what’s going on’
Isolation is by no means a Swiss-only phenomenon, but with one in four Swiss residents born in another country, a common theme was feeling far apart from loved ones.
Linda Shoppee, who lives in Villars-sur-Ollon but comes originally from Scotland, said she was struggling with distance – both to her home country and her surrounds.
“I am stuck in my second residence in Villars-sur-Ollon. My partner had to go back to Scotland by plane for a meeting and then could not return as flights were cancelled,” Linda said.
“I am here, as every winter, with our Nissan Navara and our two springer spaniels and am faced with a 22-hour drive back to Scotland on my own, with no possibility to stop on the journey and also worried about how the French authorities would accept my passage through France.”
“Almost no one speaks to me and I do feel totally isolated. Luckily I speak fluent French, German, Italian but at 66 I feel totally bereft of any potential support.
“I stay in my mountain home totally isolated. My views are spectacular but I don’t really know what’s going on.”
Fiona B, also from Great Britain, agreed.
“I feel quite lonely, I miss the freedom to meet others at will. Not being able to refresh and plant my balcony for summer is seriously affecting my mental health and that is worrying me due to a pre existing illness.”
The crisis has brought unforeseen changes in the lives of arguably every person on earth, but for some the timing is particularly unfortunate.
Jouella Sodela, from Norway, moved to Switzerland in February and had planned to marry her fiancé in March – however the wedding was postponed.
“Because of the sudden lockdown and restrictions, we had to cancel our plans. At the moment, I am still here in Switzerland together with my fiancé hoping that this nightmare will all be over soon and that we can finally say our ‘I Dos”
Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels
‘I feel fine’
Others said they were happy to be in Switzerland as the pandemic continued to unfold. American Alicia M said “I feel fine being in Switzerland. I feel like the government is really well-organised to handle this pandemic”, while Brit Fiona B said “Happy to be here, it's my home. I feel safe and confident in government actions”.
Priya, from Germany, said that the discipline of the Swiss even outranked that of the Germans.
“I feel safe. I feel the discipline is far better here and in case of any mishap I will be well taken care by the government.”
Mark J, from the UK, said while he was happy to be in Switzerland – he had encountered difficulties, particularly with an ailing pet.
“I feel rather safer here than in the UK, but separated from my immediate family.
“A number of reasons prevented me going back to the UK at the start of the crisis including an ongoing cancer investigation (now determined to be negative fortunately) and long term care for our elderly diabetic cat.”
How has your life in Switzerland changed since the lockdown began?
Most respondents said they had experienced significant changes since the outbreak began as they were unable to visit friends, to travel, to go to concerts or to go skiing.
Although some respondents said their work was only moderately affected – and some didn’t feel any differences at all – respondents in the hospitality and service sector were doing it hard.
Alicia S said much of her work as a dog walker and pet sitter had dried up overnight. “I only go out to get food from the grocery store. I have very little work doing petsitting or dog walking since everyone is staying home and my services aren’t in high demand right now.”
Are people complying with the lockdown?
The majority of the respondents were confident that lockdown rules were being followed, others said they were concerned.
Alexandra B said that some outdoor areas were busier than before the lockdown came into place.
“I would expect more insistent messages via mass media on staying home and stricter controls. Especially in the hiking trails around. All have the same idea to walk up there and at the end you find more people now than the days before the crisis.”
Ashwin S said he felt people appeared to be tiring of the restrictions: “I feel people more careless day by day.I see large number of people outside during the last few days. People are excited seeing the sunny weather.”
Jouella agreed “Once a week, my fiancé and I go to the grocery for our weekly food shopping and since the lockdown we noticed that more old people were outside to buy food. More people were being ignorant about the restrictions.”