Switzerland set to tighten coronavirus measures until Christmas: reports

Switzerland looks set to implement a ‘mini-quarantine’ in the lead-up to Christmas to ensure a “carefree family celebration”, Swiss media reported on Tuesday.

Switzerland set to tighten coronavirus measures until Christmas: reports
A discarded facemask on the ground in Switzerland. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

While the measures would be introduced up to and including December 23rd, there is as yet no set date for when they are likely to come into effect. 

Several newspapers have reported that Health Minister Alain Berset is pushing for the implementation of the measures in order to “save” Christmas and New Years celebrations. 

Maximum of two different households

The centrepiece of the mini-quarantine is a restriction on the number of households that meet, with only two – and a maximum of ten people – allowed at one time. 

Maximum of four people at tables in restaurants

The measures also include restrictions in the private sphere. 

Under the rules, only four people would be allowed to sit at a table in a restaurant. 

The four would also be allowed to come from a maximum of two households. 

Educational institutions

All face-to-face events are to be banned at educational institutions, other than teaching activities, exams or obtaining a student ID, reports the NZZ

No singing

According to the NZZ, the measures also include a ban on singing, unless it takes place in a family context. 

Professional singing is also still allowed. 

Following Germany's example?

The measures are inspired from a similar set of rules in Germany – which are also designed to ‘save Christmas’. 

According to a document sent by the Federal Office of Public Health to the cantons for consultation and obtained by the Tages Anzeiger, a range of measures are to be tightened up to and including December 23rd. 

The goal of the tightening is to ensure a “more carefree family celebration” and a relaxation of measures on New Years Eve by reducing the number of cases across the country, 20 Minutes reports

Under the plan, bars and restaurants would be allowed to stay open until 1am on New Years Eve, later than the current 11pm nationwide curfew. 

Watson reports that another goal of the plan is to ensure a safer winter sport season. 

The rules for meeting – both in public and private areas – look set to be tightened at a federal level. 

The cantons have until Wednesday to respond, Watson reports, while the Federal Council will make a decision on whether or not to implement the measures on Friday. 



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Reader question: Are Brits in Switzerland still banned from donating blood?

For many years, people coming from the United Kingdom were banned from donating their blood in Switzerland. This is what the situation is right now.

Reader question: Are Brits in Switzerland still banned from donating blood?

The ‘blood ban’ that extended to British citizens or those of any nationality who had lived in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), was implemented for safety purposes.

The reason was the so-called mad cow disease (BSE), which was particularly rampant in Great Britain in the 1980s and 1990s.

Many people contracted and even died from the cattle-borne condition known scientifically as Creutzfeld-Jakob disease.

It is believed that one in 2,000 people in the UK is a carrier of the disease. 

While most of them got BSE from eating contaminated beef, “experience tells us that the disease could be transmitted from human to human via blood”, according to a BBC report.

As a result, a number of governments, including the Swiss, prohibited people from the UK to donate blood.

However, this rule is no longer in force in Switzerland.

According to Geneva’s university hospital (HUG), which is a member of the national blood transfusion network Blutspende and follows the same rules, only people who had lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996 for more than six months at a stretch still can’t donate blood.

This is a period when the BSE outbreak was at its worst in the UK.

If you had lived in Great Britain prior to or after that date, you can safely donate your blood.

Have there been any BSE cases in Switzerland?

About 465 cases had been reported in Switzerland between 1990 and 2020, with less than 20 deaths.

There are still isolated cases of BSE throughout Europe, but they are no longer a cause for as much concern as previously.

Can everyone donate blood in Switzerland?

Gay men are still not allowed to do so.

Under Swiss law, any man who has had sex with another man is prevented from donating blood for 12 months — the legislation was introduced during the the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, while the 12-month rule was introduced in 2017.

However, in March 2020, the National Council’s Commission for Social Security and Health said the rule was “no longer appropriate” and filed a motion to rescind it. 

READ MORE: Switzerland to clear way for gay and bisexual men to donate blood

Who else is prevented from donating blood?

According to Blutspende, these medical and other conditions disqualify people from donating blood in Switzerland:

  • Positive test for HIV (AIDS), syphilis, hepatitis C and hepatitis B
  • Prostitution
  • Past or present drug use by injection
  • Blood transfusion after 01.01.1980

These reasons could be a cause for deferral though not an outright ban:

  • Stay during the past six months in a region where malaria is endemic, without any health problem (in case of illness with fever, tell the doctor at the blood donation centre).
  • Suffering from a sexually transmitted disease during the past 12 months
  • Change of sexual partner during the past four months
  • Sexual intercourse with multiple partners during the past 12 months
  • Stay of six months or longer in the past 12 months in countries with a high HIV-prevalence

More information about blood donation in Switzerland can be found here.