At a press conference at 5pm on 16 March 2020, members of the Federal Council presented a list of further restrictions designed to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, that will become active from midnight tonight. A video of the conference can be viewed below.
Alain Berset, Switzerland’s interior minister, called on the population to follow the rules. To date a significant number of people have not been following them, he said. Following these measures is critical for protecting people at risk, those over 65 and those with poor health. In addition, we all need to play the game to protect hospitals from overload. Social distancing and avoiding unnecessary contact with others is essential.
From midnight, all restaurants, bars, night clubs, public places – parks, casinos, museums, art galleries, ski resorts, theatres, clubs, pools etc, all non-essential shops, and all businesses that involve close contact – eg hairdressers, must be closed and remain closed until 19 April 2020.
Essential services can remain open. For example, post offices, pharmacies, food retailers and banks will be allowed to stay open. Hospitals, clinics and doctors’ surgeries will remain open but must avoid all non-urgent treatment.
Many cantons had already announced similar measures.
Additionally, nurseries and kindergartens will remain open unless the local government is able to offer an alternative.
The government said there were sufficient stocks of food and medicine.
Anyone with symptoms must work from home if possible or stop working if home working is not possible. Salaries must continue to be paid. Employers can apply for partial unemployment, a procedure that effectively replaces a portion of pay with unemployment benefits.
Entry restrictions will be applied to all borders from midnight. From Friday, access was restricted along Switzerland’s border with Italy. The borders of all neighbouring countries will be controlled from midnight. Only those that can show evidence of citizenship or residence, along with those with professional reasons or those delivering freight will be allowed across Switzerland’s land borders. Restrictions on entry by air are still being discussed by the government.
Finally, the government raised the number of military personnel available to help hospitals and essential logistical operations from 800 to 8,000 until the end of June 2020.
All of these mesures remain in force until 19 April 2020.