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Allowing large gatherings in Switzerland ‘poses a significant risk’

Faced with the possibility that Swiss authorities will authorise gatherings of over 1,000 people from October 1st, health officials say the measure may spark the second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Allowing large gatherings in Switzerland ‘poses a significant risk’
Crowds of 1,000 people might be allowed from October 1st. Photo by AFP

The government announced last week that over 1,000 people will be allowed to get together from October 1st. The decision was made based on the “needs of society and the economic interests of sports clubs and cultural venues”. 

The current limit is 300.

Authorities did say that “strict protective measures will apply and the events will have to be authorised by the cantons, taking into account the local epidemiological situation and their contact tracing capacity”.

However, some health officials are sounding the alarm about the risks involved in allowing such a large number of people to congregate in one place while the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet under control.

“We are seeing a slow but inexorable increase in infections and outbreaks in Switzerland,” Philippe Eggimann, president of the Medical Society of French-Speaking Switzerland said in an interview with La Liberté newspaper. 

“It is not reasonable to open the way for more transmission opportunities,” he added.

READ MORE: 'We're on a dangerous slope': Swiss officials fear more Covid-19 cases as seasons change 

According to Eggimann, lifting the restriction on large assemblies would make it harder to trace contacts in the event of coronavirus infections, therefore “encouraging a second wave”.

He also noted that the re-opening of schools and the return from vacation will increase social interactions, and with it, the risk of exposure to the virus.

“In this context, allowing crowds of 1,000 people is a significant risk. It would have been safer to watch how things develop and only then make decisions,” he noted.

The warning comes as the number of Covid-19 infections in Switzerland became the highest since the worst of the pandemic in April.

The number of daily cases so far in August has exceeded 200 a day, rising nearly twofold from previous weeks.

That is a substantial surge from the month of June, when the count for daily cases was in the low two-digits. 

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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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