Coronavirus: Federal Council introduces further measures and urges cantons with increasing case numbers to take immediate action

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The epidemiological situation in Switzerland remains extremely serious. The Federal Council has therefore called on cantons in which case numbers are increasing to take immediate action. It also decided at its meeting on 4 December to introduce new measures. The aim is to bring down the number of cases further still, particularly in the run-up to the festive period. Stricter rules for shops will come into effect on Wednesday, 9 December, and capacity in closed forms of transport at ski resorts will be restricted.

In certain cantons, the number of coronavirus infections is stagnating at a high level or is even rising again. The situation in hospitals is still extremely strained. Non-urgent procedures are having to be postponed at certain hospitals and hospital staff are under a great deal of pressure.

The Federal Council is concerned by these developments. It has therefore urged the cantons to take immediate action and introduce stricter measures if their situation is deteriorating or stagnating at a high level. Criteria include the number of infections, the R-number, the number of hospital admissions and the incidence rate. The Federal Council is convinced that rapid action is the only way of averting the introduction of stricter measures. It will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, 8 December, in order to make an interim assessment and will decide on stricter measures on 11 December if the cantons have not taken the required action.

Fewer people allowed in shops
There is an additional risk of the virus spreading over the festive period as people do more shopping and get together with friends and family. After consulting with the cantons, the Federal Council has therefore decided to impose stricter measures and has amended the COVID-19 Ordinance accordingly.

To further protect the public, the number of people allowed to be in a shop at any one time will be reduced. The restriction (space per customer in larger stores: 10m2 instead of 4m2) will come into force on 9 December and remain in place until further notice. The intention is to encourage members of the public to plan their shopping outings carefully.

New rules for restaurants
In restaurants throughout the country, contact details for at least one guest per table must be registered, as is already the case in various cantons. On New Year’s Eve, closing time will be extended exceptionally from 11pm to 1am to reduce the risk of spontaneous private gatherings.

Singing, whether indoors or outdoors, is not permitted, apart from in a family setting or at primary and lower secondary schools. This ban covers choirs and congregations at religious services and certain New Year celebrations involving singing.

The Federal Council strongly recommends that people from no more than two households meet when holding private gatherings or visiting a restaurant to keep the number of contacts to a minimum. The 10-person limit still applies. To further reduce the number of contacts and the flow of people, the recommendations on working from home should be applied more widely. The Federal Council has therefore renewed its appeal to employers to allow staff to work from home where feasible to make it as easy as possible for them to keep contact with other people to a minimum in the run-up to the festive period. Reducing contacts is particularly sensible if people plan to see friends and family members who are at high risk.

Ski areas can open if case numbers are falling
Ski areas should be allowed to open for domestic tourism. Where the epidemiological situation is critical, measures must first be taken to allow it to improve. From 22 December, ski areas will require a permit from the cantonal authorities in order to operate. The prerequisite is that the epidemiological situation so allows, and that hospitals, contact tracing services and testing sites have sufficient capacity. Ski resort operators must also put in place strict precautionary measure plans that reflect the national standardised requirements. The aim is to prevent the virus from spreading in tourist destinations.

Ski areas themselves are not subject to capacity restrictions. However, from 9 December only two thirds of maximum capacity will be permitted in all closed forms of transport, such as trains, gondolas and cablecars. This applies to seating and standing room.

Face coverings must be worn when queuing for and travelling on all forms of transport, including dragand chairlifts, and distance must be maintained when queuing. Guests at restaurants in ski areas will only be allowed inside the premises if there is a table available. The current rules continue to apply to indoor and outdoor areas: customers must be seated with no more than four people per table, with the exception of parents and their children.

The cantons have a duty to monitor compliance. If significant problems arise, ski resort operators will be issued with a warning. If the situation is not rectified, the permit must be withdrawn. The cantons must also provide a report to the federal authorities on the number of checks carried out, the number of warnings issued and permits withdrawn, as well as on hospital capacity.

The Federal Council
www.admin.ch/gov/en/­start.html

General Secretariat FDHA
http://www.edi.admin.ch

Federal Office of Public Health
http://www.bag.admin.ch