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Could Switzerland lift its Covid measures by February 16th?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Could Switzerland lift its Covid measures by February 16th?
A Covid certificate is not necessary in Switzerland but may be required abroad. A illustration picture taken on September 14, 2021 in Lausanne shows a Swiss Covid certificate displayed on a smartphone and a fork and knife, as Switzerland decided to widely extend the obligation of health pass, facing a pandemic of Covid-19 which continues to fill the hospitals and the beds of intensive care and an insufficient rate of vaccination. - From September 13, 2021, it is necessary to show its Covid certificate to enter a restaurant or a bar, enter in an exhibition place, cinema's or a sporting event indoors. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Although Omicron is still spreading rapidly throughout Switzerland and the number of infections is skyrocketing, the easing of current restrictions is in view.


Even as numbers continue to climb, with the record 43,199 cases reported on January 26th, the government is planning to lift most of the remaining Covid measures by mid-February.

Health Minister Alain Berset announced on Friday that quarantine rules for contact cases and obligation to work from home will come to an end from Wednesday, February 2nd, even though the pandemic is not yet over. 

READ MORE: Switzerland to end quarantine and working from home obligation

Also, according to a report in SonntagsZeitung on Sunday, which the newspaper said is based on information received from federal authorities, Covid certificate requirement in indoor venues like restaurants, as well as other places and events where it is currently compulsory, would be abolished on 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.

Health officials have previously said easing of measures is possible because, while infections are soaring, relatively few Covid patients end up in ICUs, so the healthcare system is not overburdened.

However, Lukas Engelberger, head of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors, sounded the alarm on Sunday against “premature optimism” on the part of the federal government.

“We shouldn't act too fast and reopen everything at once, but rather in a balanced and staggered way", he pointed out.

He added that “it is dangerous to prematurely declare the end of the pandemic. It’s important not to let go now, because it’s not over yet”.

READ MORE: ‘Too early to celebrate’: How Omicron is still holding Switzerland in its grip

On the political front opinions about the pace at which measures are lifted vary as well.

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which has opposed the Covid certificate and other restrictions, is in favour of the move.

SVP deputy Albert Rösti, president of the Health Commission in the National Council, said the quarantine, working from home requirement and Covid certificate requirement should be “dropped quickly and at the same time”.


However, other parties are calling for a more tempered approach.

For the Centre, the Liberals and Social Democrats, lifting of all measures at once is “too quick”. and should be done gradually.

Liberal MP Andrea Caroni said the government should wait until the Omicron wave wanes before implementing any large-scale changes to current measures.

Philipp Bregy, the Centre’s parliamentary group president, is also calling for gradual easing: “It is clear to us that the first thing to do is to end the work from home and quarantine obligation. But lifting of the certificate requirement should not come before March".

Roger Nordmann from the Social Democratic Party also favours the gradual approach.

“When we end everything in one fell swoop and then have a setback, it would be totally depressing", he noted.


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