Switzerland announces tighter Covid measures
The Swiss government has announced a range of Covid measures, after agreeing with the cantons on an expansion of the existing requirements.
Switzerland’s expanded Covid measures, which will apply from December 6th, will include an expansion of the Covid certificate requirement, a shortening of the period antigen tests are valid for as well as a more comprehensive mask requirement.
The quarantine requirement will also be scrapped, with tougher testing requirements put in place to control the spread of the Omicron variant.
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said the expansion of measures was necessary due to the deteriorating Covid situation in the country. Switzerland has recorded record new infections over the past week, while ICUs in several cantons are at full capacity.
"The infections have been increasing sharply for a few weeks. In addition to local outbreaks, mainly in schools and in old people's and nursing homes, the virus is also spreading again among the broader population" the government said in a statement.
While the measures will be stricter than those currently in place, they are more relaxed than those initially forecast by the federal government on Tuesday, with the controversial Covid certificate requirement in private homes being rejected by the cantons.
The measures will be in place until January 24th at the earliest.
The Covid certificate will now be required for all indoor events, regardless of the amount of participants. Previously a certificate was not required for events with fewer than 30 people.
Outdoor events will need a Covid certificate if more than 300 people are in attendance.
Masks will now be required indoors everywhere a Covid certificate is required.
"The mask has proven to be a simple and inexpensive means of preventing the transmission of the virus," the government said.
When sitting in a bar or restaurant, a mask must not be worn - but needs to be worn when moving around.
Bars and restaurants
Standing in a bar or restaurant will no longer be allowed, with each guest required to have a seat.
From Saturday, all countries will be removed from Switzerland's quarantine list.
Instead, people arriving will need to complete two PCR tests, one before arriving and one between four and seven days after arriving.
This will be for all entrants, regardless of vaccination status.
“In order to prevent the introduction of the new Omicron variant as far as possible, a more stringent test regime now applies to all entries into Switzerland. This compulsory test also applies to vaccinated and recovered people. "
People need to pay their own test costs.
People arriving from border areas are exempt.
The 2G rule - which refers to people who have been vaccinated and recovered but not tested - will not be put in place.
However, bars, restaurants and other locations who put the rule in place - i.e. only allowing recovered and vaccinated people - may remove the requirement for a mask and may allow their guests to stand.
The government indicated that this would be difficult to check at first, given that the current Covid certificate also includes tested people.
Therefore, venues which want to do this will need to check each person's Covid certificate manually.
A new update of the app will be available from December 13th.
Working from home "strongly recommended but not required"
Working from home is strongly and urgently recommended, but is not required.
"In addition, all employees have to wear a mask indoors, in which several people are staying," the government said.
Shorter test duration
Antigen tests will now be valid for 24 instead of 48 hours for the Covid certificate. PCR tests are still valid for 72 hours.
No more capacity restrictions
Capacity restrictions on funerals and religious events have been removed, although these can be put into place by the cantons.
More to follow…