UPDATE: Switzerland to close all restaurants amid new move to stem Covid-19 surge

New restrictions will go into effect in Switzerland on Tuesday in an effort to curb the growing number of coronavirus infections.

UPDATE: Switzerland to close all restaurants amid new move to stem Covid-19 surge
Restaurants will have to close on December 22nd. Photo by AFP

Restaurants and bars, as well as sports, cultural and leisure facilities, will have to close their doors on December 22nd and remain shut until January 22nd, the Federal Council announced on Friday.

Delivery and take-out services will remain possible. Company and school canteens, as well as hotel restaurants, will also be able to continue their activities.

However, store capacities will be limited and the number of customers allowed inside at the same time will depend on the size of the business.

“The epidemiological situation is a cause of great concern,” the government said in a statement.

“The number of infections is very high and is continuing to rise. Hospitals and healthcare workers have been under extreme pressure for weeks and the festive period increases the risk of an even more rapid rise in cases,” it explained.

Switzerland, a country of about 8.6 million people, is continuing to see more than 4,000 new cases and 100 deaths each day, despite a wide range of measures taken recently in parts of the country.

In total, the country has recorded more than 400,000 cases and nearly 6,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.


Health Minister Alain Berset said however that the least-affected cantons – those where the R-rate remains below 1 for more than a week – may decide to ease the restrictions and keep their restaurants and other venues open.

So far only Valais and Geneva have R-rates lower than 1.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: The Covid-19 restrictions Switzerland could impose after Christmas

“The evolution of the pandemic does not correspond to our expectations”, Berset said.

“It is a critical situation”.

“New infections are increasing in most cantons. The situation in hospitals is not sustainable in the long term,” he added.

If the epidemiological situation continues to deteriorate, the Federal Council said it would  take further measures quickly. It will carry out an interim evaluation on December 30th.

 There are a number of exceptions to the new restrictions, which are due to last for at least a month.

Hotel restaurants and school and workplace cafeterias will not have to close.

And while sporting venues will be asked to close, professional teams will be permitted to play games without spectators.

The government also said that cantons that shows positive epidemiological development could individually decide to loosen some of the national restrictions.

That decision followed outrage expressed over fresh restrictions from French-speaking cantons, which had already recently shut restaurants and closed cultural sights for weeks while the German-speaking part of the country
left everything open.

But while restaurants, sports and culture venues will close, skiing will still be allowed under the strict conditions which are currently in place.

They include wearing face masks not only in enclosed spaces such as mountain trains and cable cars, but also on open-air chair lifts and T-bars, as well as in queues.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Where are you most likely to catch the virus in Switzerland

Health Minister Alain Berset nonetheless urged his countrymen to “think” before setting off on a snow holiday, warning that the hospitals are already full.

Berset also announced that from December 21st, rapid Covid-19 tests will become available to people without symptoms, in order to detect as many infections as possible. 



Member comments

  1. it’s quite disappointing how long it took the local to report this after the news conference. especially considering it is a paid news service.

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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.”