Multiple Swiss cantons in favour of scrapping all COVID restrictions
In an announcement last week, the government confirmed that it was submitting two new plans to lift COVID restrictions in Switzerland. Now, each Swiss canton has had the opportunity to comment on the measures before the official announcement, expected on February 10.
Switzerland to decide how to end COVID restrictions
After announcing the first round of relaxations to the COVID rules, the Federal Council put forward two plans - called "variants" - to ease restrictions further. The plan comes amid a fall in the number of cases and the lessening of pressure on the healthcare system.
Variant 1 would see all COVID related restrictions lifted on February 17, such as COVID certificates, mask mandates and restrictions on events, although positive cases would still need to isolate. Variant 2 would see a more gradual reopening, with the certificate scrapped in certain settings and some areas moving from 2G+ to 2G, while the date for a fuller relaxation would be determined by the epidemiological situation at the time.
Cantons in favour of fast reopening after COVID
Of the cantons that have made their opinion public, the majority, including the largest canton Bern, want to move to Variant 1 by February 17. This would see all measures lifted apart from the requirement for those who test positive for COVID to self-isolate and report their illness.
Spokespeople from Obwalden and Glarus have called for the quickest relaxation. Glarus has gone one step further, calling for the self-isolation obligation for COVID cases to be scrapped, with their spokesperson saying that “all measures should be lifted in one step," as anything else would confuse the public.
Face masks to remain in some settings
In regard to the mask mandate, the Swiss government confirmed that they would liaise with cantons on where masks should remain mandatory. Fribourg, Nidwalden and Schwyz want to keep mask mandates for public transport and hospitals.
Other cantons, like Zug and Uri, say they want masks in one of the two places, with Uri Health Director Christian Arnold saying that public transport does not stop at Uri’s borders and, therefore, there should be a nationwide rule. Canton Bern confirmed that they hoped the current mask requirements would remain, but only for three to four weeks.
Few cantons have openly supported Variant 2
Other cantons have been slow to announce which variant they will opt for. So far, only Canton Basel Stadt has come out in favour of Variant 2. There is also some trepidation in the Swiss parliament, with some voices in the chamber calling for the decision to be delayed by two weeks.
Cantons have until the end of February 9 to submit their ideas and objections. Whatever is decided by the Federal Council is likely to be announced on February 10, with the changes coming into effect on February 17.