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UPDATE: French-speaking Swiss cantons now subject to strict coronavirus rules

Vaud, Neuchâtel and Valais must now comply with Switzerland’s Covid-19 restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.

UPDATE: French-speaking Swiss cantons now subject to strict coronavirus rules
Swiss-French cantons are closing their restaurants again. Photo by AFP.

The three cantons have decided to end their exemption status starting from midnight on January 3rd.

They, along with three other Swiss-French cantons — Geneva, Fribourg and Jura — were freed from the restrictions that the Federal Council implemented on December 22nd. 

These measures included the closing of all bars and restaurants, as well as sports and culture venues, until at least January 22nd.

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

But the least-affected cantons, where the R-rate remained below 1 for more than a week, could decide to ease the restrictions and keep their restaurants and other venues open.

At the time, the R-rate — a measure of the speed at which the disease is spreading — was just below 1 in the French- speaking part of Switzerland, so these cantons were exempt from following national rules.

However, the rate in Vaud, Neuchâtel and Valais has now exceeded 1, forcing the cantons to comply with the federal measures.

The other three French cantons have already been following federal restrictions — Jura from December 22nd, Geneva from the 23rd, and Fribourg from the 26th.

 

As a reminder, these measures, which are now uniform throughout Switzerland, include: 

  • The closing of bars, restaurants, discotheques, night clubs, museums, libraries, cinemas, as well as other entertainment, cultural, and recreational activities.
  • Shops and service establishments such as hairdressers, can stay open, with the exception of Sundays. Only bakeries and pharmacies can be opened on Sunday.
  • The number of persons who may be in a shop at any given time will be restricted. The maximum number depends on the size of the store.

Exceptions are:

  • Company or school canteens.
  • Hotel restaurants and bars, but only for their customers. They must close at 11 pm.
  • Food takeout and delivery services.
  • Ski areas remain open but restaurants in resorts and on slopes must close.

READ MORE: Switzerland rejects further coronavirus lockdown despite 'worrying' situation 

 

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

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.”

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