Switzerland Outlines Relaxation of Restrictions

It wants to ease measures on March 1st with sports facilities reopening and more people allowed at private events. In ski resorts ice rinks would be allowed to open though bars, restaurants and sporting events must remain closed to the public.

The Federal government made the announcement on Wednesday and it will now discuss the measures with regional authorities.

It wants a “cautious, gradual opening in order to give more space to social and economic life again.”

A final decision on the plans will be made on 24th February.

“From March 1, shops, museums and library reading rooms should be allowed to reopen, as well as outside spaces at zoos and botanical gardens, and at sports and leisure facilities,” the government said in a statement.

Up to 15 people would be allowed to meet outdoors – it is currently 5.

Ski resorts have been allowed to remain open with strict covid-19 regulations in place.

The number of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths has fallen in recent weeks but the rate is expected to start slowing.

It’s second wave has been far worse than the first one last Spring and the authorities do not want to ease measures too quickly.

There are real concerns about a third wave caused by the high number of cases of the variant viruses.

The percentage of new infections due to the variants is doubling every 10 to 14 days.

The variants are around 50% more contagious and health officials warn that they pose a real risk of a third wave of infections in Switzerland.

The British variant, B117, has doubled every ten days and represents around 20% of the current active caseload in Switzerland.

More than 6,000 infections of a mutated form of coronavirus have now been detected in Switzerland.

The west of the country has been hardest hit by coronavirus mutations.

The British variant has been discovered in Vaud (451), Bern (321) and Geneva (249).

In total, 707 variants of an ‘unknown origin’ have been discovered in Geneva, along with 197 in Vaud and 189 in Valais.

Elsewhere in Switzerland, Zurich recorded 684 examples of unknown variants, followed by Aargau 263.

Swiss scientists believe that the variants will eventually replace the existing the virus.

The government hopes to ease measures at the beginning of each month.

It will judge it by looking including infections, hospital admissions and the so-called R-rate.

“Further reopening phases will follow at monthly intervals as long as the epidemiological situation allows. That way, there is sufficient time between phases to monitor developments,” the government said in a statement.

“More activities should be permitted progressively if infection rates are favourable and as vaccination rates rise.”

Switzerland has recorded 544,282 cases and 9,817 deaths since the pandemic began.

It is currently seeing 103 cases per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.