2G or closures: Switzerland presents new Covid measures plan
The Swiss government on Friday presented two separate sets of proposed measures that could be adopted to curb the country’s worsening Covid situation.
The measures, which include restricting indoor areas only to the vaccinated and those recovered from the virus, have now been sent out to the cantons for consultation.
"I would have liked to say enjoy the holidays," President Guy Parmelin told a news conference on Friday, adding though that "unfortunately, the government must once again propose additional measures to stymie a new wave" of infections.
In both examples, access to indoor areas would be restricted to people who have either been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from the virus.
"I am convinced that the vaccine remains our best chance to bring an end tothis repeated crisis," Parmelin said, urging all those yet to receive a shot to get one
The two proposals have been awkwardly titled ‘Variant 1’ and ‘Variant 2’ and cantons will now discuss which set of proposals will be adopted nationwide. The Swiss government will announce a final decision on Tuesday.
The first path represents a tightening of the existing measures, while the second is much tighter and includes partial closures.
This is known as the 2G Rule, which reflects the German word vaccinated (geimpft) and recovered (genesen).
In both cases, working from home should again become compulsory, and university students should return to remote learning.
Also in both cases, private events can have a maximum of 30 people inside and 50 people outside if all are vaccinated.
If at least one unvaccinated person is present, then the maximum number of people is five.
Masks will be required in schools from secondary level.
Variant 1: 2G plus mask
The first path tightens the Covid certificate to vaccinated and recovered people, meaning that negative tests no longer qualify for the certificate.
In effect, this means restricting indoor areas only to the vaccinated and those recovered from the virus.
Masks must be worn indoors except for when sitting. Bars and restaurants are required to have allocated seating. Food and drink can only be consumed at a person’s seat.
If the venue cannot operate with allocated seating - for instance clubs, choirs, brass music concerts and rehearsals - then attendees would need to be 2G compliant (vaccinated or recovered) as well as providing a negative test.
This is known as 2G+.
Venues like fitness centres and restaurants are able to dispense with mask rules and allocated seating if they require visitors to show a test in addition to their vaccinated and recovered status.
2nd path: Partial closures
The second path tightens the Covid certificate to vaccinated and recovered people, meaning that negative tests no longer qualify for the certificate.
Under this path, indoor areas of bars, restaurants, clubs etc would have to close for everyone, i.e. not just the unvaccinated.
Sporting and cultural activities - i.e. amateur sport - would be restricted to 2G compliant people from age 16 and up.
Eating and drinking would no longer be allowed at outdoor sporting events.
Which measures are likely to be adopted?
The cantons will have until Tuesday December 14th to consider the measures and provide feedback to the government, before a decision is made.
It is telling that the government has provided the cantons with two paths rather than a range of suggested measures.
By providing two courses of action, cantons will need to choose one or the other.
Last week, the federal government provided a range of suggestions, most of which were knocked back by the cantons.
Generally, the cantons have been more reluctant to put in place tighter restrictions, particularly smaller, rural, German-speaking cantons.
Health Minister Berset said he was surprised the situation was so dire. "I never thought that we would be under such high pressure by mid-December,” he said on Friday afternoon.
The government will also keep an eye on the developing situation when making an ultimate decision, with Berset saying the measures would only be implemented "if necessary".