Switzerland’s top scientist said on Thursday that a second lockdown was not inevitable, but warned the general public they would need to comply with social distancing and hygiene restrictions to avoid again spreading the virus.
Marcel Tanner, President of the Academies of Sciences, told the Tagblatt that the country needed to do anything it could to avoid “devastating” second lockdown, including requiring all Swiss to wear masks.
‘There cannot be a second lockdown’
Tanner said that the likelihood of a second lockdown would rise if the country started to think the battle had been won.
He also said that the focus on the coronavirus tracing app as the country’s saviour was mislaid, saying that hygiene and social distancing rules would be as important in the summer as they have been in the early stages of the lockdown.
“The focus on the app is wrong,” he said.
“One of the basic conditions of the containment strategy is that we continue to maintain distance and hygiene measures… This existing backbone must not be lost.”
Tanner, a vaccines specialist, said some form of social distancing measures would need to remain in place as long as the virus was circulating in the community, i.e. until a vaccine was available for the virus.
“We cannot carry out the lockdown cyclically so that the economy and society are turned on and off again and again – that’s harmful to both society and the economy. A disaster,” he said.
“There cannot be a second complete lockdown.”
Could Switzerland implement a compulsory mask requirement?
Unlike some of its neighbours, Switzerland has stopped short of putting in place a compulsory mask requirement. Indeed, masks aren’t even recommended for the broader population, with the government only encouraging the public to wear masks when they are sick.
Tanner said he envisions masks being part of a longer-term lockdown exit strategy.
“Then there may still be a second wave, but we can deal with it specifically by addressing the hotspots,” he said.
“It could then happen that masks have to be worn on public transport or the right to visit is restricted again in certain nursing homes. But without all other homes being closed again.”