What changes in Switzerland in May?

What changes in Switzerland in May?
Swiss National Council President Isabelle Moret (In Red) stands for a minute of silence for victims of the COVID-19 at the opening of a decentralized session of the Swiss National Council. AFP
There are plenty of changes in store for Switzerland in May - particularly when it comes to the easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Here's what you need to know.

First things first: coronavirus. A number of changes are set to come in place to the lockdown as of May 11th, with a range of businesses allowed to open again pursuant to certain social distancing rules. 

The parliament meets for an ‘extraordinary’ session from May 4th until May 8th

Normally the two parliamentary chambers, the National Council and the Council of States would have their regular spring session from March 2nd until March 20th. But this year it was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The extraordinary session will take place at the Bernexpo hall, as its size — 6,000 square metres — enables 246 deputies to follow the hygiene and distance measures, which would not be possible in the chambers of the Federal Palace.

During this extraordinary session the deputies will debate ways to avoid a second wave of infections and the management of the economic crisis. 

The parliament must also endorse the decisions of the Federal Council and release 55 billion francs to be used to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pubs, restaurants to open on May 11th

Perhaps the most surprising news from Wednesday's announcement was that restaurants in Switzerland would again be allowed to open on May 11th, rather than June 8th.

To do so however, they will need to comply with a strict set of requirements. 

No more than four people will be allowed to sit at one table, while all guests must be seated. Therefore, pubs will be allowed to open provided seating is provided. 

Groups of guests must sit more than two metres away from other groups, or be separated by some form of partitioning. 

Parents and their children will be an exception to the four-person limit, with families allowed to sit groups larger than four. 

Gyms open on May 11th with social distancing protocols

Fitness centres, yoga facilities and swimming pools may open again from May 11th. 

In order for the facilities to be allowed to open again, they must present a “protection concept” to authorities. 

A maximum of one person per ten square metres will apply in every type of fitness facility. 

Devices must be disinfected after every use. 

More information about the measures gyms need to adopt to reopen again can be found here

Sport’s back for summer

Recreational sports and training for professional/elite sports will also again be allowed to take place from May 11th.

Training will need to take place in groups of five or fewer, while elite sports will be given an exception to this rule and will be able to train as per usual. 

Professional sports leagues will be again allowed to start up on June 8th – but will need to play before empty stadiums. 

Switzerland to relax coronavirus lockdown for professional and recreational sport

Public transport

Public transport will again be allowed to open in Switzerland, with transit networks running according to their regular timetables from May 11th onwards. 

The government also announced a package to support the domestic aviation industry, however no indication was given as to when domestic flight schedules would return to normal. 

Schools

Primary and lower secondary schools will be again allowed to open from May 11th. 

The specific regulation of schools is set to take place at a cantonal level. No social distancing rules have been laid out by the federal government, but they may be introduced by the cantons. 

Daniel Koch, spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Health, said “It is very rare for children to transmit and get the virus. Children very rarely infect other children. The situation is stable and there is no contradiction that the schools are reopened – it is understandable and correct.”

Universities, vocational colleges and high schools will also be allowed to host events again, provided it is with groups of five or fewer people. 

Grammar school exams will however not go ahead, with the 2020 vocational baccalaureates being decided purely on experience.  

Borders: Family reunifications

In an official statement issued by the Swiss Government late on Wednesday, the Federal Council said entry restrictions into Switzerland would begin to be lifted. 

“For Swiss and EU citizens, family reunification in Switzerland will become possible again from 11 May. Border controls will however remain in place” said the statement. 

The statement did not provide any clarification as to whether residence permit holders of EU countries would be allowed to enter Switzerland for the purposes of family reunions, nor did it provide an indication as to the documentation needed to prove that entering Switzerland was being done for the purposes of visiting a family member. 

Border control authorities have discretion as to whether they can allow someone to enter, the police confirmed to Swiss tabloid Blick on Thursday

The police said on Thursday that while this includes spouses, registered partners and children. Justice Department boss Karin Keller-Sutter emphasised during her press conference on Wednesday that visiting grandparents was not included in the scope of the relaxation. 


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