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Explained: What you need to know about Zurich’s new coronavirus shutdown

Zurich will tighten coronavirus measures on Thursday. Here's what you need to know.

Explained: What you need to know about Zurich’s new coronavirus shutdown
Zurich at night. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

On Saturday Health Minister Alain Berset told cantons with rapidly increasing contamination rates to urgently mandate stricter measures against the pandemic by December 11th.

The move is driven by the increasing number of Covid-19 infections in various German-speaking cantons and in Ticino.

As a result, authorities in Zurich are tightening a variety of measures. 

The cantons of Solothurn, Basel City and Basel Country will also toughen their measures. 

What will change in Zurich – and when?

From Thursday, December 10th, Zurich will put in place tighter rules in a number of areas. 

The measures will be in place until January 10th, 2021, at the earliest. 

A max of four people from a maximum of two households can sit on the same table in the same restaurant. 

Contact details must be collected of everyone who visits a restaurant. 

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

All publicly accessible businesses must close at 10pm, including petrol station shops, kiosks and take-aways. 

Brothels, casinos, strip clubs, cabarets and sauna clubs have to close. 

UPDATED: What are the coronavirus measures in every Swiss canton? 

Public gatherings are restricted to ten people – including rallies and protests. This is lower than the federal maximum of 15 people. 

Performances in public are banned, as are fireworks. 

In addition, there is an ‘urgent recommendation’ to limit private gatherings to only two households until December 23rd. 

High school and vocational school students will work from home between Christmas and January 4th, after which normal classes will resume. 

 

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HEALTH

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.

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