Three Swiss cantons impose new face mask requirements

In response to the increase in Covid-19 infections in their cantons and in other Swiss regions, authorities in Ticino, Bern and Valais are tightening their rules regarding the wearing of masks outdoors or in school settings.

Three Swiss cantons impose new face mask requirements
Masks are to be worn outdoors. Photo by AFP

In Ticino, masks are becoming obligatory outside when the minimum safety distance of 1.5 metres cannot be observed. The new rule is implemented as of Tuesday October 27th.

The Italian-speaking area is the second Swiss canton to impose masks outdoors, after Appenzell- Ausserrhoden, which enacted this measure on Monday.

The Ticino State Council also banned amateur sports involving physical contact from Wednesday. 

Exceptions are made for professionals, children's training, and sports lessons in compulsory schools.

In addition, and in line with regulations implemented in other cantons, customers in Ticino restaurants can eat only while sitting down, a maximum of four people per table, unless they are members of the same family. For private events, the limit is set at 15 people.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's nationwide mask requirement 

Masks in schools

The cantons of Bern and Valais are imposing mask requirement in secondary and vocational schools.

In Bern, wearing a mask is compulsory from Tuesday. Students must wear them during lessons and within the school perimeter.

Adults will have to wear a mask during lessons, on the school grounds, and in all buildings.
Schools are also advised to give up contact sports.

In Valais, students in orientation cycles will have to wear a mask after the autumn holidays, which means on October 29th in Haut-Valaisan areas, and November 2nd in the rest of the canton.

Masks will be compulsory not only inside the schools, but also in outdoor spaces, including school transport and schoolyard.

Measures already implemented in other Swiss cantons are listed here.

The federal government is expected to decide Wednesday on new nationwide restrictions to control the spread of the virus.

According to a report leaked last week, mask requirement will be expanded from indoor public spaces to some outdoor areas as well, as is now the case in the two cantons, as well as in Italy and many locations in France.

But is this strategy really effective in curbing the spread of Covid-19?

“From a scientific point of view, there is no evidence that wearing the mask outside stops contaminations”, said Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Geneva.

“To my knowledge, all the outbreaks reported so far happened in enclosed, crowded and poorly ventilated areas”, he pointed out.

However, Flahault agreed that putting on a mask outdoors is a good idea when it is not possible to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters in crowded places.

Philippe Eggimann, president of the Vaudois Medicine Society (SVM), said people should have better habits when it comes to protecting themselves outside.

“Taking off your mask as soon as you get off the train when the platforms are full is not a good idea, yet I see too many people do that. Also, as wearing your mask under your nose in the middle of the street is ineffective ”, he noted.

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IN DETAIL: Which Covid measures will the Swiss government decide to relax on Wednesday?

The Swiss government will announce a further relaxation of coronavirus measures on Wednesday afternoon, including rules relating to travel, masks, sport, restaurants and events. Here's what we know so far.

IN DETAIL: Which Covid measures will the Swiss government decide to relax on Wednesday?
Switzerland looks set to relax mask rules from June 28th. Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

The Federal Council will announce its decision this afternoon about which coronavirus measures should be further relaxed, with the changes expected to come into place from June 28th. 

The restrictions that the government would relax include upping the number of people allowed to gather together in and outdoors, permitting more people to sit at tables inside restaurants as well as on terraces, and lifting of mask requirements for outdoors.

Vaccinated tourists from third nations will also be allowed to come to Switzerland from next Wednesday.

Authorities have previously said these restrictions will be relaxed if the epidemiological situation and outlook remain good.

Here’s what you need to know. 

Mask rules to be lifted outdoors, in the workplace and at high schools

From June 28th, masks will no longer be required in busy, publicly accessible outdoor areas. 

Masks are currently required outdoors in bus stops, train stations, leisure facilities and on chair lifts. 

Masks will also no longer be required in the workplace. 

READ MORE: Switzerland to lift mask requirement in outdoor areas from June 28th

However, mask rules will remain in place where staff interact with customers, i.e. in retail outlets and restaurants. 

Masks will also no longer be federally required in grammar schools, technical secondary schools and vocational schools.

However, the Federal Council indicated that some cantons may continue the existing mask rules in educational institutions. 

Pubs and restaurants

Capacity restrictions will be loosened at pubs and restaurants. 

While the number of people per table will be raised from four to six, outdoor tables will no longer have an upper limit. 

Rules for mandatory seating will also be lifted in outdoor areas, meaning that people will again be able to drink while standing and move around. 

Pubs and restaurants will still be required to collect contact details and everyone moving around inside will still need to wear a mask. 

Nightclubs and discos open to those with Covid certificates 

Nightclubs and discos will again be allowed to open, although entry will be restricted to those with covid certificates. 

As reported by The Local Switzerland last week, nightclubs are classified as ‘red’ under Switzerland’s covid certificate rules – which means only those who have tested negative, been vaccinated or recovered from the virus will be allowed to attend.

Attendees must demonstrate compliance by bringing a Covid certificate. Click the link below for more information.  

READ MORE: What will Switzerland’s Covid-19 pass allow you to do?

A maximum of 250 people will be allowed to attend, but masks will not be required provided. 

Venues must collect contact details. 

Events to be allowed again

The rules relating to events will also be relaxed. Up to 1000 people can take part in an event without a covid certificate if they are seated, while the maximum for standing events will be 250 people. 

These limits apply both indoors and outdoors. 

Private events can take place without masks with a max of 30 people (indoors) and 50 people (outdoors). 


Capacity restrictions on outdoor and indoor sport will be wound back, while indoor sports will still be required to have masks provided distance cannot be kept. 


Quarantine requirements and other entry restrictions will be completely dropped for people entering from the Schengen area. 

Only countries in the Schengen region which have a high prevalence of Covid mutations would face entry restrictions. As at June 23rd, this includes Brazil, Canada, India, South Africa, Nepal, and the UK.

From outside the Schengen zone, Switzerland is set to open up to vaccinated travellers. 

This includes people from the United States. 

“In view of the positive developments in the epidemiological situation and the progress made in the field of vaccination, the Federal Council is proposing to greatly relax the prescriptions and health measures at the border for people entering Switzerland”, authorities said.

This means not only that there would no longer be any testing or quarantine requirements for vaccinated arrivals for citizens of Schengen area states, but also for those coming from third nations, that is, countries outside the EU / EFLA.

Filling out the passenger locator form will still be obligatory for all passengers arriving by air, but not for those using land transportation.

More information is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: Switzerland set to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers, including Americans