Swiss Corona Measures: “A compromise in good Switzerland”

Status: 04.12.2021 4:51 a.m.

As of Sunday, Switzerland will be a high-risk area for the RKI. After a long hesitation, the Swiss government is now reacting with new nationwide measures. Among other things, the entry requirements are tightened.

By Kathrin Hondl, ARD Studio Geneva

Just a few days ago, the Swiss Minister of Health Alain Berset saw “no need for action” for a nationwide tightening of protective measures – now he is turning around: “The situation is very serious. We have to slow the trend, and that can only work if everyone participates. ”

Kathrin Hondl
ARD studio Geneva

A seven-day incidence of over 600 and more than 80 percent full intensive care units are forcing the government in Bern to act. “The pressure is very high, very critical,” said Berset.

Referendum gives government support

Now, liberal Switzerland is also decreeing somewhat stricter corona measures – throughout the country, not just in the cantons that have been particularly affected, as was previously the case. It is probably not by chance that the change of course takes place just a few days after a highly controversial referendum on the Swiss Covid law.

The clear approval of the population with 62 percent gave the government in Bern pandemic political support. The new Omikron variant created additional pressure to act.

However, the new steps are no comparison to the measures taken by neighboring countries: A lockdown is currently still taboo in Switzerland, as is the introduction of general 2G rules. The Swiss government is only tightening the 3G rules that are already in place. In addition to the “vaccinated, recovered, tested” obligation to provide evidence, a mask must now also be worn in cinemas, theaters, museums and at events. In restaurants and bars it is only allowed to eat or drink while sitting.

Drastically tightened entry requirements

2G – i.e. access only for vaccinated people or genesis – is a compromise that the government is proposing to clubs or discotheques for whom the newly arranged compulsory seating for eating and drinking does not seem practicable. 2G, according to the health minister, is a solution for locales who want this. This eliminates the need to wear a mask and sit down when drinking.

On the other hand, the entry requirements into Switzerland will be drastically tightened from this Saturday. Anyone who comes to the country, whether vaccinated, recovered or not, needs a negative PCR test – and those who stay longer have to be tested again after four to seven days – by PCR or rapid antigen test, at their own expense. This does not apply to travelers from the border regions, according to Martin Gerber, who is responsible for legal issues at the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health.

Tourism industry concerned

While critics doubt the effectiveness of the newly decided measures or at best – like a journalist for the Swiss broadcaster SRF – speak of a “good Swiss compromise” – the tourism industry is worried about the beginning of the winter season. Especially since the German Robert Koch Institute has just declared the country a high-risk area.

The Swiss hotel association HotellerieSuisse called the decision “devastating”. It was also resistance from business and individual cantons that prompted the Swiss government to forego the measures initially targeted, such as a general obligation to work from home or mandatory testing at schools.

When asked whether more far-reaching measures are planned, the pandemic situation in the country should continue to worsen, the Swiss health minister said: The next step is quite unpleasant, the government has not yet talked about it.

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