Covid: Swiss government announces new measures

On 28 October 2020, after a record number of 8,616 daily new cases of infection were reported, Switzerland’s federal government announced new measures to fight against the spread of Covid-19. These rules come into effect from Thursday 29 October 2020.

Nightclubs to close
Discos and nightclubs will be closed.

New rules for restaurants and bars
No more than four people will be allowed to sit at a table in restaurants and bars, with the exception of families with children. All bars and restaurants must be closed between 11pm and 6am.

Ban on events with more than 50 people
Events with more than 50 people will no longer be permitted. This concerns all sporting, cultural and other events. Exceptions include parliamentary and communal assemblies, political demonstrations as long as the necessary precautionary measures are taken.

Ban on private gatherings of more than 10 people
Because gatherings of friends and families are a key driver of spread they will be limited to 10 people.

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Ban on sports gatherings of more than 15 people
Recreational sporting or cultural activities with more than 15 people are banned and contact sports are prohibited. Masks must be worn indoors if there isn’t enough space between people. An exception is made for children under 16 and professionals.

Amateur choirs and singing banned
Due to the large number of droplets released while singing, performances by amateur choirs are prohibited, although professional choirs may continue to practise.

Ban on face-to-face teaching at higher education institutions
Higher education institutions will have to switch to distance learning from Monday, 2 November. Classroom teaching is still permitted at compulsory school level and at upper secondary schools (baccalaureate and vocational schools).

Mandatory mask wearing extended
Masks must now also be worn outside establishments and facilities, such as shops, venues, restaurants and bars, farmers’ and Christmas markets, busy pedestrian zones or any other public space where the required distance cannot be maintained.

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Masks are now also mandatory in schools from upper secondary level onwards.

Masks are now mandatory in the workplace unless the distance between workspaces can be maintained. Employers should allow staff to work from home where possible.

Children under the age of 12 and table seated guests in restaurants and bars are not required to wear a mask

Federal Council to introduce rapid testing
From 2 November 2020, rapid antigen tests will be introduced alongside PCR tests. This will allow faster and more widespread testing and allow more infected people to be identified and rapidly isolated.

The accuracy of rapid tests has been evaluated by the Centre national de Référence pour Infections Virales Emergentes (CRIVE) in Geneva. The rapid tests are less sensitive than PCR tests and will mainly be used to test persons who are potentially infectious.

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The cost of the rapid tests will be covered by the federal government, although only for individuals who fulfil FOPH test criteria.

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New threshold for travel quarantine
From 29 October 2020, only regions with infection rates 60 per 100,000 higher than the Swiss rate over 14 days will trigger a quarantine requirement on arrival in Switzerland. The latest 14-day infection rate in Switzerland is 763 per 100,000. So a nation or region would currently need to have a rate above 823 per 100,000 to trigger a quarantine requirement.

The only places now on Switzerland’s quarantine list are:

France:

  • Region Hauts-de-France
  • Region Île de France
  • Overseas area French Polynesia

Countries:

  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic

Alain Berset was quick to point out that this is not an invitation to travel.

Exceptions for business travellers and people travelling for medical reasons are also to be amended. The rule requiring such trips to not last longer than five days will no longer apply.

More on this:
Government press release (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now

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