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FACE MASKS

Will Switzerland relax the mask mandate in supermarkets, shops and museums?

Switzerland is considering whether to further relax coronavirus measures, including the mask mandate in supermarkets, retail stores and museums.

Will Switzerland relax the mask mandate in supermarkets, shops and museums?
Spectators wearing protective face masks watch the Swiss National League ice hockey match between Lausanne HC and SCL Tigers in Lausanne, on October 1, 2020 as stadiums crowds return for the first time since the to COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus. - Switzerland is entering a "delicate phase" of its battle against Covid-19, the health minister Alain Berset urging the Swiss to stay on their guard as ice hockey arenas and football stadiums prepared to let in crowds of more than 1,000 people, the numbers limit on gatherings having expired at the end of September. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

According to the Swiss government’s opening plan drawn up in the Spring, further measures are to be relaxed in August. 

This includes removing the mask requirement in supermarkets and shops, which would mean masks only need to be worn in public transport and certain public spaces, as well as medical facilities. 

In fact, some scientists and experts believe that relaxing the mask rules may actually encourage remaining vaccine holdouts to get the jab, with the risk of getting the virus higher without a mask requirement. 

Swiss epidemiologists Marcel Tanner and Marcel Salathé, who previously sat on the government’s Covid Taskforce, says the time has come to remove the mask requirement now that everyone who wants to get vaccinated can. 

“Everyone has now had the opportunity to be vaccinated. The time has therefore come for the state to relax the regulations and gradually drop them,” Tanner told the NZZ. 

Salathé said changes need to be made soon, as it was “dangerous” to keep restrictions in place. 

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset however said that no consultations with the cantons were currently planned to change mask rules, having said on Wednesday that tighter restrictions – including requiring the Covid certificate – might be put in place in restaurants and bars should infections continue to climb and vaccination willingness falls. 

Under the proposed rules, a Covid certificate would also be required to visit hospitals and medical faculties, as well as old age homes. 

READ MORE: Switzerland considers Covid certificate for restaurants and bars as vaccination rates slow 

When making the announcement in April that there would be further relaxations in August, the government left it open as to whether the rules would be relaxed or extended. 

“Should the epidemic worsen despite everything and the health system is threatened with overload, the Federal Council reserves the right to maintain or reintroduce certain measures such as mask wear, protection concepts, distance rules or capacity restrictions for a certain period of time” the government said at the time. 

Another epidemiologist, Andreas Cerny, told the NZZ he felt that the rules should be further relaxed in September, so as to give people who are returning from summer vacation and have not had a chance to get the jab a chance to be vaccinated. 

Member comments

  1. “Everyone has now had the opportunity to be vaccinated. The time has therefore come for the state to relax the regulations and gradually drop them,” Tanner told the NZZ.

    Except for children under 12. We seem to forget about them.

  2. Can you please do some research on the (huge) risks of administering this experimental vaccine to our children?

  3. speaking as a scientist, this seems like a bad idea. I suppose they want to force people to get their shots, but they take on two risks. first, there are at-risk people such as immunocompromised people who will face additional dangers. Second, there will be an increase in infections that can breed new variants. Politicians do not seem to understand the second point, but this is exactly how we got the alpha and delta variants. At what point might we get a variant that can infect vaccinated people at high frequency?

    If the politicians had any guts they would follow the science, and do so at the level of R values and numbers of infected rather than hospitalizations and deaths, which lags by 3 weeks or more. If they had any guts they would promote activities outside and not eating in restaurants indoors, for example. Even better, require proof of vaccination to eat or work at an indoor restaurant or bar.

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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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