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Switzerland scraps majority of COVID restrictions

Switzerland scraps majority of COVID restrictions

In a press conference on February 16, the Federal Council announced the latest steps to relax COVID restrictions in Switzerland. Ministers said the encouraging situation in Swiss healthcare means the majority of restrictions can be scrapped.

Switzerland scraps most COVID certificate and mask mandates 

At the press conference, President Ignazio Cassis said that the improving situation in Swiss healthcare has allowed them to follow through on the proposals that they made two weeks ago. Out of the two variants proposed, the council has opted for a version of Variant 1 that would see the majority of restrictions scrapped, but some rules remain in certain settings.

Here is what has been announced:

Mask requirement and COVID certificate scrapped

From February 17, the obligation to wear a mask in shops, indoor areas of restaurants, publicly accessible facilities, businesses and events will be scrapped. Along with masks, the COVID certificate requirement in businesses like cinemas, theatres, restaurants and events will end.

The mask requirement in workplaces will also be removed, along with the recommendation to work from home.

Contact restrictions lifted on private gatherings

All restrictions on private gatherings will be lifted, as well as capacity restrictions on retail and in cable cars at ski resorts.

Travel rules to Switzerland relaxed

So-called “Swiss only” certificates will be revoked, but ordinary Swiss COVID certificates will still be issued for the purpose of travel to other nations, should that country require proof of vaccination. For those who want to visit Switzerland, there is no longer a need to present a vaccination, recovery or test certificate.

What COVID restrictions in Switzerland remain in place?

Masks will only be required in public transport and in healthcare facilities like hospitals. The government explained that this was in order to protect the most vulnerable.

In addition, all those who test positive for COVID must still self isolate for five days to reduce the spread of coronavirus. However, these rules will probably be phased out by the end of March, depending on the epidemiological situation. From now on, it will be the responsibility of each canton to decide whether they want to implement any more restrictions.

"The light on the horizon is visible" says president

Speaking at the conference, Cassis said it had been exactly 23 months since the Swiss government declared an “extraordinary situation” to deal with COVID, and that now was the time to “take a decisive step.” He said that, as a society, Switzerland needs to “seek a new balance" where people should be respected if they choose to wear a mask, for example.

Concluding the conference, the president said that the “light on the horizon is visible” in regard to COVID. Despite the widespread lifting of restrictions, he said that all residents of Switzerland should continue to behave cautiously.

Jan de Boer

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Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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