UPDATE: What are Switzerland’s current coronavirus shutdown measures?

UPDATE: What are Switzerland's current coronavirus shutdown measures?
Restaurants in most of Switzerland will close from December 22nd. Photo by AFP
On December 18th, Switzerland put in place an extensive range of new measures. Here's what you need to know.

A more comprehensive summary of Switzerland's measures are available here. 

Restaurants and bars, as well as sports, cultural and leisure facilities, were told to close their doors on Friday, December 18th.

Originally, they were set to remain shut until at least January 22nd, however on January 6th, the Federal Council announced an extension of the closures until the end of February

No exceptions were made for Christmas or New Year celebrations. 

What are the rules?

From December 18th, 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.

Shops can stay open but their capacities will be limited and the number of customers allowed inside at the same time will depend on the size of the business.

“Restrictions on opening hours continue to apply: shops must remain closed between 7pm and 6am, and on Sundays and public holidays”, the government said.

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

These decisions were taken because “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.

However, Health Minister Alain Berset said that restaurants in cantons where the R-rate is below 1 can remain open. On Friday those cantons were Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel and Fribourg. 

But even in those cantons, the R-rate is hovering very close to the limit and Berset said restaurants there will be ordered to close once the number exceeds 1.

While eateries and bars remained open in most of Swiss-German regions, they had been shut in the French-speaking cantons since the beginning of November and allowed to re-open on December 10th.

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 throughout the country.

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.

In the meantime, 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.

In addition, queuing will be regulated so it runs in an orderly manner and without major clusters.

The number of passengers in closed ski cabins will be lowered to two thirds of the usual capacity.

And cantons must ensure that they have sufficient hospital capacity and the ability to undertake testing and contact tracing.

Other measures, which were enforced on December 13th,  are unchanged.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What you are still allowed to do in Switzerland this Christmas

They include  limits on the number of people allowed  to get together — up to five people from two households, with exceptions for up to 10 people from December 24th to 26th, and on December 31st for Christmas and New Year festivities.

Note: This information is correct as at January 4th, 2021. Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.


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