At its meeting on 12 August, the Federal Council took the decision to re-allow events for more than 1000 people from 1 October. Strict protective measures will apply and the events will have to be authorised by the cantons, taking into account the local epidemiological situation and their contact tracing capacity. The Federal Council thereby intends to ensure that the epidemiological situation in Switzerland does not deteriorate. At the same time, this careful reopening step takes into account the needs of society and the economic interests of sports clubs and cultural venues.
The Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA was given the task of working with the relevant departments and the cantons to draw up standardised requirements for granting permits for large-scale events by 2 September. These should apply across the board, such as for sporting, cultural and religious events. In addition to applying basic measures such as hygiene and social distancing rules, further guidelines will also be issued, drawing on the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Science Task Force. Such events will require a permit from the relevant canton. The cantonal authorities may refuse to grant a permit if the local epidemiological situation or their contact tracing capacities do not allow it.
Events for more than 1000 people have not been permitted in Switzerland since 28 February. The ban is one of the key measures that has helped to reduce the number of coronavirus infections in Switzerland. The measure applies until 31 August and will now be extended by a month until the end of September. This gives the cantons time to prepare the permit system and increase their contact tracing capacities, if necessary.
By taking this approach, the Federal Council wants to ensure that the epidemiological situation does not further deteriorate. At the same time, it is taking into account society’s need for a varied programme of cultural and sporting events, as well as economic interests. Not all large-scale events pose the same level of risk. There are large-scale events at which the minimum distance between people can largely be respected.
Wearing of masks compulsory during flights
The Federal Council has also decided that masks will have to be worn during flights from 15 August. The wearing of masks on public transport has been compulsory since 6 July. The measure concerns all scheduled and charter flights taking off from or landing in Switzerland, regardless of airline.
Diplomats exempt from quarantine
Foreign diplomats will be eligible for an exemption from the quarantine requirement if their presence in Switzerland is necessary for the proper operation of their embassies. Swiss diplomats will now also be exempt from the requirement to go into quarantine when returning from official business trips.
One-off expenditures related to managing the COVID-19 pandemic
Efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic have led to various additional expenses for the Federal Office of Public Health this year, such as for public awareness campaigns, running phone hotlines and developing the SwissCovid app. The Federal Council is therefore requesting a supplementary credit (from Parliament) of CHF 31.6 million for 2020 to cover the cost of managing the COVID-19 pandemic.