Last Friday, the authorities in Geneva announced nightclubs must close immediately as part of a plan to stem the recent rise in the number of new SARS-CoV-2 infections.
On 22 June 2020, after a period of consistently low new infections, Switzerland’s federal government decided to ease restrictions across the country. However, the cantonal authorities in Geneva warned restrictions would be reimposed if infections began to rise again.
Geneva was the canton hardest hit by the first wave of infections. By one estimate 10.8% of the canton’s population might have been infected. As cases start to rise again Geneva appears to be in the lead a second time. According to data from one website, since 30 June 2020, Geneva has experienced more than double the per capita infection rates of Vaud, Jura, Zug and Zurich, the cantons with the next highest rates.
According official figures, the number of Covid-19 cases has risen sharply in Geneva over the last three weeks from 37 to 79 and then to 216 cases. During the three days to last Friday there were 177 new cases of infection and 14 hospitalisations in the canton. Over the same period, the percentage of positive tests rose from 2% to 9%, above the 5% target recommended by the WHO. A rate above 5% suggests insufficient testing.
According to the cantonal authorities, 40% of those testing positive can be linked to 20 clubs in Geneva.
In response to this rise in infections, the canton has decided to act. On 31 July 2020, it announced the closure of all nightclubs, including discos, dance halls, cabarets and dance clubs. The ban will remain in effect until 23 August 2020, but could be extended.
In addition, drinking in bars and restaurants must be done sitting down at tables spaced at least 1.5m apart. Masks must be worn by all guests except when they are seated at their table. Bars and restaurants are required to reliably collect the contact details of guests.
Any violation of the rules could result in fines, warned the government.