Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, which went into effect on March 16th, people over the age of 65 were urged to stay at home.
Health authorities said that seniors, and especially those within this age group who have pre-existing health conditions, are most at risk from Covid-19 complications.
But during the press conference on May 8th, Health Minister Alain Berset acknowledged that the diminishing rates of Covid-19 infections throughout the country now allow more flexibility to be granted to older people.
“The situation is not the same for a 66-year-old in good health as for a 75-year-old with preexisting and multiple serious illnesses”, Berset said.
“We have to be careful but pragmatic”, he added.
Berset stressed, however, that when seniors venture outside, “the rules of distance and hygiene must be respected”.
The cantons are responsible for setting up recommendations for protective measures for the people over 65.
Vaud, for instance, has already published guidelines on Friday for seniors who want to resume their normal activities.
The overall directives, including distance and hygiene measures, are the same as for the general public. But the authorities say older people should take extra precautions in crowded places, such as face masks and frequent use of hand disinfectant.
Also, even though authorities have recently said that it is “safe” for grandparents to hug their grandkids under the age of 10, a longer contact between the generations — such as babysitting — is not recommended.
While health care experts have been stressing the importance of keeping the elderly confined as long as possible, Swiss president Simonetta Sommaruga pointed out already in mid-April that the Federal Council was not planning to keep older people under lockdown for an indefinite period of time.
“It is not possible to completely cut these groups off from the outside world”, she said at the time.