Switzerland’s government announced Wednesday it would significantly ease its Covid-19 restrictions despite the fact that the country’s epidemic “remains fragile and has even worsened in recent weeks”.
The government said that as of Monday, Swiss restaurants and bars, which have been closed since December, will be permitted to open outdoor seating areas, while cinemas and other leisure facilities will reopen, as will outdoor and indoor sports facilities.
The government warned that it was too early to say whether increased socialising during the Easter holidays last week would cause a fresh spike in infections.
But, the government stressed in a statement, it “estimates that the risks associated with this easing are acceptable”.
Here’s what you need to know
Restaurants and bars may reopen terraces
Outdoor areas of bars and restaurants may again open up all over the country.
A maximum of four people may sit at a table – all all people must be seated.
Take away shops are allowed to set up tables outside – provided people are seated.
Restaurants and take aways must be closed between 11pm and 6am.
The government will continue to fund businesses, even with the openings.
“Because many catering businesses are not yet able to cover their costs with this regulation, the economic support for the catering industry will continue as before,” the government said in a statement.
Discos, nightclubs and dancehalls must stay closed.
Sporting events and concerts
Audiences are again allowed at sporting events and concerts.
The numbers will be capped at 100 for outdoor events and 50 for indoor events.
These numbers cannot exceed one third of the capacity of the venue. For instance, if an indoor event space only has capacity for 100 people, then the maximum number of people will be 33.
Distance should be kept between attendees, including having at least one chair/seat in between each audience members.
Food and drink will not be served.
The government did not announce any changes to this rule. A maximum of 15 people may meet outdoors and indoors.
Children are counted in the tally. While not a rule, the government still recommends that no more than two households meet at one time (up to the maximum number).
Leisure and entertainment may reopen inside
Leisure and entertainment facilities such as zoos and botanic gardens may reopen their indoor areas. Outdoor areas have been allowed to open since March 1st.
Masks must be worn inside.
Wellness facilities and pools must however remain closed.
Entry into Switzerland
The rules regarding entry into Switzerland were not changed as part of the update.
More information on entry and quarantine rules is available at the following link.
Sport and culture
Individuals and groups of up to 15 people are again allowed to play amateur sport, including tournaments and competitions.
However, masks must be worn outside where distance of 1.5 metres cannot be kept – and both masks and distance must be worn/kept indoors.
Ski areas will remain a decision for the cantons – and of course the coming warmer weather.
The federal government requires that cantons make their decisions to open or close ski facilities on the basis of test capacity, hospital capacity, contact tracing infrastructure and only where a ‘hygiene and safety concept’ has been provided.
Gyms and fitness centres
Gyms and fitness centres are again allowed to open from April 19th. There is no maximum capacity as gyms are not counted as a ‘group activity’, meaning that distance must be kept and masks must be worn.
There are exceptions to the mask rules for ‘endurance training’, however longer distances must be kept in these instances.
Non-essential shops and markets have been allowed to open since March 1st. Mask requirements and capacity restrictions must however be followed.
Supermarkets, pharmacies, post offices, hairdressers, gas stations, laundries, hardware stores and garden stores were not closed as part of the lockdown and therefore remain open.
Face-to-face teaching will again be allowed at universities and in adult education from Monday.
There is a restriction to a maximum of 50 people and a capacity limitation to a third of the room, as well as mask and distance requirements.
Working from home
The obligation to work from home remains in place. This was not changed as part of the announcement.