June 11, 2024
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A view of the market with the town hall in the old town of Saxony, Pirna, Switzerland on Monday, December 7.
A view of the market with the town hall in the old town of Saxony, Pirna, Switzerland on Monday, December 7. Robert Michael/picture alliance/Getty Images

Switzerland plans to ban nearly all public events and place further restrictions on private gatherings starting Saturday, as coronavirus infections rise, the Swiss government announced Tuesday.

The new measures follow the Swiss government’s announcement last week that ski resorts can remain open for domestic tourism but stricter Covid-19 restrictions would be imposed. 

Starting Dec. 12 to Jan. 20, the government plans to halt all public events, except church services and legislative meetings, and will order restaurants, shops, markets, and sports facilities to close at 7 p.m. local time.

The government also plans to restrict private household meetings to five people from two households, apart from on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve, when a maximum of 10 people can meet for the holidays. 

Meanwhile, each local cantonal authority can authorize ski resorts to open, according to the Federal Department of Home Affairs last Friday. 

“The corona situation is noticeably deteriorating. The number of infections is rising again, the intensive care units are very busy and the health workers are exhausted,” Swiss Government spokesperson André Simonazzi said in a series of tweets Tuesday. “The Federal Council therefore wants to tighten the national measures.”

Switzerland’s 26 cantons will now consult with the federal government on the proposed measures, with the final decision to implement them taking place on Friday.

The new restrictions come as the Federal Office of Public Health recorded 92 more deaths in Switzerland and neighboring country Liechtenstein Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 5,116. Health authorities also recorded 4,262 new Covid-19 infections Tuesday, bringing the total cases to 358,568 since the pandemic began.  

“If the situation worsens next week, the Federal Council plans to take additional measures on December 18, such as the closure of restaurants and shops,” said Simonazzi. “Compensation measures for businesses that are most affected by the restrictions are under consideration.”

Swiss Confederation President Simonetta Sommaruga added, “With this package, we want to create clarity and planning security. And we want to provide security in these uncertain times.”