UPDATE: Swiss to end quarantine and working from home obligation from Wednesday
Switzerland's quarantine rules and obligation to work from home will come to an end from Wednesday, February 2nd.
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset announced the change at a press conference on Friday, January 28th.
"We are in a good situation today. We can take steps forward" Berset said.
Switzerland will remove the obligation to work from home which has been in place since late 2021.
The quarantine rules will also be relaxed.
The plan has currently been sent out to the cantons for consultation, however it is expected to be formalised from Wednesday onwards.
The announcement comes despite Switzerland continually hitting record numbers of new Covid infections over the past few weeks.
Fortunately, hospitalisations and ICU admissions remain low, which experts believe is due to the less virulent nature of the Omicron variant, which now accounts for 90 percent of new infections.
What are the measures being relaxed?
Under Switzerland's current quarantine rules, those suspected to be infected with Covid must quarantine for five days.
This measure applies to those with a 'close contact' to someone who has tested positive. Close contact is defined as "people who stay under the same roof and regularly use shared living space over a longer period of time".
This measure will be relaxed from Wednesday, February 2nd for fully vaccinated or recovered people.
The isolation rule however will not be relaxed. This rule requires all of those who have tested positive for Covid to isolate (regardless of vaccination status).
The obligation to work from home will also come to an end. This requirement, put in place on December 20th, required everyone who can work from home to do so all across Switzerland.
As of February 2nd, while working from home will still be recommended, it will no longer be required.
Official measures are laid out here by the Swiss government.
No 'freedom day' for Switzerland
Berset however said he wanted to avoid the term 'Freedom Day' for February 2nd. The term, which has been used in the United Kingdom, has been favoured by several Swiss politicians, particularly on the conservative end of the political spectrum.
"It's a warlike expression, other countries have thrown it around, not Switzerland."
"It could be a happy day. Or happy days." said Berset.
When asked about whether this signalled an end of the pandemic, Berset said he was cautiously optimistic.
"Something can always happen. But the prospects are good."
Berset also said there were no plans to get rid of the Covid certificate requirement at this stage.
"The obligation to obtain a certificate applies worldwide. Being able to travel is also a certain form of freedom."
Several politicians, particularly from the right-wing Swiss People's Party, have called for an end to the Covid certificate requirement.
While this is at this stage unlikely, there have been some indications the requirement could be relaxed.
According to a report in Switzerland's SonntagsZeitung newspaper from Sunday, January 30th, which the newspaper said is based on information received from federal authorities, the Covid certificate requirement in indoor venues like cafes and restaurants, as well as other places and events where it is currently compulsory, would be relaxed from February 16th.
The limit on the number of participants in private settings would also be lifted on that day, according to the report. Only the masks and testing of symptomatic people would reportedly remain compulsory under the plan.
These changes are set to be announced on February 2nd, SonntagsZeitung said, and would be implemented two weeks later, after a consultation with cantons.
More information about the plan is available at the following link.