EXPLAINED: What you should know about restaurant re-openings in French-speaking Switzerland

Restaurants will open again this week in French-speaking cantons in Switzerland. This is what you should know about the rules.

EXPLAINED: What you should know about restaurant re-openings in French-speaking Switzerland
Restaurants in Swiss-French part, like this one in Lausanne, are getting ready to re-open on Thursday. Photo by AFP

More than a month after closing down, restaurants and cafés in Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Fribourg and Jura will resume their operations on December 10th. In Valais, the re-opening is planned for December 13th.

The cantons said that the decision to re-open “was made in a concerted manner and with a desire for harmonisation and clarity” among the neighbouring regions. 

Authorities noted that the decision to re-open was driven by the steadily declining coronavirus infection rates in the regions, which until the first week of November had been among the most impacted in Switzerland.

The establishments will, however, have to implement several measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus among customers and staff:

  • Tables must be at least 1.5 metres apart and masks must be worn if customers are not seated.
  • Eating will only be permitted while sitting.
  • Only up to four people will be allowed per table.
  • Contact details for tracing must be provided.
  • Establishments must close from 11 pm to 6 am. The only exception will be made on December 31st, when they will be able to stay open until 1 am.

Authorities said they would monitor “for the possible effects of the re-opening on the pandemic. This means the decision can be revoked if the health situation requires it”.

READ MORE: Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th 

Heated terraces

As there is a lower risk for coronavirus transmission in the open air, restaurants and cafés will be allowed to install special heaters outdoors, to encourage customers to eat outside.

This procedure requires a special permission, and municipalities will grant this authorisation on an exceptional basis.

Different rules for bars

Although the same regulations apply to restaurants in all six cantons, there is divergence concerning pubs.

In Geneva, Fribourg and Valais, bars will have to follow the same rules as restaurants.

But Vaud and Neuchâtel are more restrictive, allowing only bars that serve food to re-open. This means that customers must order food in those bars; if that is not an option, the establishments will remain closed.

In Jura, bars where customers can eat will remain open until 11 pm. But those that don’t serve food will have to close at 6:30 pm.



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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”