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HEALTH

Switzerland announces sweeping new Covid-19 restrictions

The Swiss government announced on Wednesday a range of strict Covid-19 measures which will apply from Thursday. Here's what you need to know about the new rules, which include a nationwide curfew on bars and restaurants.

Switzerland announces sweeping new Covid-19 restrictions
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset and President Simonetta Summaruga. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

At a meeting with cantonal authorities on Wednesday, October 28th, Switzerland announced a range of new restrictions measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus. 

The press conference was attended by President Simonetta Sommaruga, Health Ministeer Alain Berset, Economics Minister Guy Parmelin and Federal Council spokesman André Simonazzi.

Sommaruga explained that the measures must be implemented at a federal level. “What unites us is stronger than what divides us, we want Switzerland to overcome this crisis unanimously” she said. 

The measures include expanding the rules on face masks along with putting in place strict new curfews. 

READ: Switzerland's new outdoor mask requirement: Everything you need to know

As yet, no end date has been put on the measures. 

“We first have to see whether the measures are effective,” said Berset.

“We cannot look into a crystal ball.”

Berset said the goal of the new measures was to avoid overloading the hospital system. 

At the meeting, Switzerland announced a dramatic change to its quarantine requirement. Find out more here.

Exponential rise

Switzerland has seen an exponential rise in new cases. On Wednesday morning, Swiss health authorities reported 8,616 new coronavirus cases

The new figures came from 30,772 tests – meaning there is a test positivity rate of 28 percent. 

The test positivity rate is the amount of tests which produce a positive result – with a higher percentage indicating a less controlled Covid-19 spread throughout the population. 

Mask requirement to be expanded

Just over a fortnight after Switzerland expanded mask rules to all publicly accessible indoor areas, the federal government expanded the rules once again. 

From midnight on Thursday, October 28th, masks should be worn outdoors in all built-up urban areas where “the concentration of people does not allow the necessary distances to be respected”.

Masks would also be required in all publicly accessible indoor spaces, such as markets, waiting areas for buses and trains, etc. 

Diners at restaurants are be allowed to remove their masks when sitting down to eat. 

Masks are required at the workplace – including all offices – unless one cannot be worn for safety reasons. 

Curfew for bars and restaurants 

Restaurants and bars are forced to close from 11pm to 6am. 

Guests must sit and can only eat or drink at the table. A maximum of four people can sit at each table, excluding children. 

Events

There would be a limit of 50 people for all public events.

Private events

Groups of more than 10 people are not allowed to meet under the proposed rules. 

This includes all private events such as birthdays and weddings. 

No disco

Clubs and discos must close, while dancing would be prohibited. 

School's out

Universities are again forced to return to distance learning. Face-to-face teaching remains allowed in compulsory schools and upper secondary schools (grammar schools and vocational training). 

These measures will apply from November 2nd, rather than October 29th. 

Sports

Contact sports are prohibited. 

Indoor sports without physical contact are not allowed to have more than 15 participants, with the exception of professional sports. 

Masks would need to be worn during indoor sports, unless distance can be maintained – for instance playing tennis in large halls. Masks are not required during outdoor sports if distance can be maintained. 

Rehearsals and concerts

Rehearsals and concerts with more than 15 people would be prohibited under the new rules. 

For those with fewer than 15 people, masks must be worn. Concerts with singing – such as choirs – are completely prohibited. 

What is the next step?

The government declined to put an end date on the measures, with Berset saying it was necessary to see how effective they were before considering their removal. 

Berset said it was up to all residents of Switzerland to prevent a more extreme set of measures being implemented. 

Berset told the press conference “The next step would have big, big consequences. This is now the last chance to prevent a lockdown.”

How do the measures compare with those from the spring?

The measures adopted are less severe than those implemented in the spring. 

While groups were restricted to five, they are now allowed to be as large as 15. 

Similarly, while bars and restaurants were forced to close completely, they may now remain open within a set time frame. 

The major difference between the spring and autumn lockdowns however has been the mask requirement. 

Masks were not made law in Switzerland until July 6th – and even then this was only on public transport. 

Conversely, the current rules regarding masks are among the strictest in Europe. 

 

 

 

Member comments

  1. And what changes then, actually? Not a lot based on what I’m reading above…..at least to me personally, nothing changes at all.

    From, Thursday, October 28th, masks should be worn outdoors in all built-up urban areas where “the concentration of people does not allow the necessary distances to be respected”.

    …..and even putting in silly clauses like that make the new requirement pointless because it is subjective. Who gets to decide whether the concentration of people is sufficient or not to wear a mask? Either make it a blanket requirement for everybody or don’t! What is with these ‘half rules’?!

  2. And what changes then, actually? Not a lot based on what I’m reading above…..at least to me personally, nothing changes at all.

    From, Thursday, October 28th, masks should be worn outdoors in all built-up urban areas where “the concentration of people does not allow the necessary distances to be respected”.

    …..and even putting in silly clauses like that make the new requirement pointless because it is subjective. Who gets to decide whether the concentration of people is sufficient or not to wear a mask? Either make it a blanket requirement for everybody or don’t! What is with these ‘half rules’?!

  3. wearing masks is a rule in any country with 1000 cases. they dont take it seriously, soon will be 15k per day. they closed the bars and restaurants as 1000 cases per day but now is ok?! not serious at all, no surprise in 8600

  4. Could someone please explain how are private events different (if at all) from friend/family meetings which are limited to 10 persons max on bag.ch? Thanks

  5. can you change please SWEEPING in title? That would mean they were major, or with big effect… and they were NOT. Title should be: “Switzerland does not announce any significant new measures despite critical situation”

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HEALTH

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad
 

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