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

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 2 Aug, 2021 Updated Mon 2 Aug 2021 17:41 CEST
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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)

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

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. 

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The Local 2021/08/02 17:41

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