On 13 January 2021, Switzerland’s Federal Council announced a 5-week extension of the current restrictions and introduced further measures.
The Federal Council said that it fears the more infectious variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus could lead to a rapid rise in numbers at a time when new cases remain very high.
In little more than one month, the number of daily cases in the UK quadrupled, reaching a peak of more than 68,000 on 8 January 2021. Changes in the virus combined with epidemiological data led a group of researchers to believe that a new variant of the virus was significantly more infectious. However, they found no evidence that the new variant led to more severe disease – Public Health England report.
Today, 3,001 new cases were reported in Switzerland, with a 7-day moving average of 3,053. The last time cases were at this level in Switzerland was 17 days before they peaked in at 10,128 cases on 5 November 2020.
Five-week extension of closures
Given the current situation, the Federal Council announced it would extend the current measures introduced in December by a further five weeks. Restaurants, cultural venues, sports and leisure facilities will remain closed until the end of February 2021.
In addition, from Monday 18 January 2021, there will be further restrictions.
Closure of shops selling non-essential goods
From Monday 18 January 2021, all shops and markets other than those selling essential everyday goods are to close. But it will still be possible to collect ordered goods.
Exceptions to closures include:
- Food retailers
- Pharmacies and optometrists
- Telecommunication retailers
- Repair and maintenance shops, such as dry cleaners, tailors, garages, bike repairers and locksmiths
- Hardware and garden stores
- Flower shops
- Gas stations
Requirement to work from home
From the same date, employers will be required to enable all staff to work from home where feasible. And, employers will not be required to cover expenses incurred by employees for electricity or rent as the measure is temporary, said the government.
Further measures at the workplace
Where working from home is not possible or only partially so, further measures are to be introduced. Masks must be worn indoors to protect employees where there is more than one person in a room. Maintaining distance between workspaces in the same room is no longer enough.
Furthermore, rules regarding dispensation from the requirement to wear a mask will be stricter. A medical certificate issued by a doctor or psychotherapist is required to affirm dispensation on medical grounds.
Protecting people at especially high risk
Employers will be required to provide greater protection to people at high risk. If they cannot work from home they must be provided with equivalent protection at the workplace or be granted a leave of absence on full pay. In such cases, employers may claim coronavirus-related compensation.
Private events and gatherings restricted
No more than five people may attend private gatherings. Children are also included in that number. Gatherings of people in public are also limited to five people.
There was speculation that the Federal Council might announce school closures today after a recent study suggested it had a significant impact on reducing viral spread. But school closure were not included today. Lifts in ski stations were not mentioned either.