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COVID-19

Swiss restaurateurs: Coronavirus rules in restaurants should be eased

Switzerland's bars and restaurants were allowed to re-open on May 11th, provided they complied with strict distancing and hygiene measures. But restaurateurs now say it is time to further relax existing measures.

Swiss restaurateurs: Coronavirus rules in restaurants should be eased
Restaurateurs say distance rules should be eased. Photo: AFP

The government permitted bars and restaurants to resume their business on May 11th, ahead of the originally scheduled re-opening on June 8th. 

It authorised the sector to resume its operations earlier than planned after the hotel and restaurant association, GastroSuisse, complained that the industry was facing financial difficulties. 

But in giving the green light to the early re-opening, authorities stipulated that restaurants must implement appropriate protection measures, including spacing of two metres between tables and not more than four people at each table, except for families with children.

These rules were mandated to keep the risk of contamination to a minimum. 

About 75 percent of the country's restaurants have re-opened in the past two weeks in compliance with the rules.

However, GastroSuisse president Casimir Platzer asked the Federal Council to reduce the authorised distance between each table and eliminate the limit of four people per table, “because business under current restrictions is not profitable”, he said in an interview with the RTS television.

READ MORE: 'It's too early': Are people in Switzerland ready to return to bars and restaurants?

Platzer suggested that the distance between tables could be reduced to one metre, as is the case in Austrian restaurants.

However, while bringing the tables closer together and allowing more people to sit together may make business sense, health experts say that from the epidemiological perspective it could be risky.

Speaking with the RTS, Didier Pittet, the head of the infection prevention and control service at Geneva's University Hospital (HUG), stressed that the two-metre safety margin corresponds to the social distancing criteria established in Switzerland, even though it is more than in many countries.

“We know that the virus is rarely, if ever, transmitted beyond one metre. So we could envisage reducing the required distance between tables,” he said.

But he pointed out that if people inadvertently get closer to each other, “say within 80 centimetres or less, they will be entering the danger zone”.

He also explained that having only four people sit at a table makes it easier to track the transmission chain in case of infection

“With larger groups, contact tracing is more complicated,” he said. 

The Federal Council is expected to discuss the possibility of further easing of restaurant restrictions this week. 

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COVID-19

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?

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