Coronavirus: Next phase of reopening on 19 April
Bern, 14.04.2021 - The Federal Council is continuing its strategy of taking cautious, gradual steps towards reopening. At its meeting on 14 April, it decided on further reopening measures. From Monday, 19 April, it will again be possible to hold events with audiences and spectators subject to restrictions, for example at sports stadiums, cinemas, theatres and concert venues. Indoor sports and cultural activities will also be allowed, as well as certain matches and competitions. Restaurants will be able to reopen outside seating areas. Although the situation remains precarious, the Federal Council deems the risk associated with these reopening steps to be acceptable. It is possible to wear a mask and maintain social distancing in all of the activities that are once again to be permitted, indeed, barring a few exceptions, it is a requirement. Furthermore, good progress is being made with the vaccination of at-risk groups, and testing schemes are continually being expanded.
The epidemiological situation remains precarious and has continued to deteriorate in recent weeks. Four of the five indicators for reopening are not currently being met. It is also not yet clear whether gatherings of family and friends over the Easter period have brought an increase in infections.
Conditions met for moderate steps towards reopening
The Federal Council nevertheless considers that moderate steps towards reopening are acceptable. Hospital admissions are rising relatively slowly in view of the number of cases of infection, and good progress is being made in vaccinating at-risk groups: almost 50 per cent of those over 80 and around 30 per cent of 70-79-year-olds have been fully vaccinated. Furthermore, the situation in intensive care units is relatively stable.
In its assessment, the Federal Council also took into account the social and economic impact of the measures, especially on young people. The steps announced today largely correspond to the proposals for a second phase of reopening sent out for consultation in mid-March, but which were only implemented in small part. With a few exceptions, activities with a moderate risk are allowed provided it is possible to wear masks and comply with social distancing rules.
Steps to reopen with calculated risk
The Federal Council is aware of the risks of reopening. If hospital admissions rise, this is now more likely to affect younger people. Today, more than half of those hospitalised are under 65 years of age. There is a risk that the easing of measures will have to be reversed depending on how the situation in the hospitals develops. The Federal Council therefore appeals to the public to continue to exercise caution, especially those in high-risk groups who will be fully vaccinated in the next few weeks and thus well protected against infection and severe illness.
Restaurant outside seating areas to reopen
Restaurants and bars will be able to reopen their outside seating areas from 19 April. Customers must be seated and masks may only be removed to consume food and drink. A maximum of four people will be allowed per table and each person’s contact details must be recorded. Tables must be 1.5 metres apart or have a screen placed between them. Clubs and discos remain closed. Given that many restaurants and bars will still not be able to cover their costs despite these steps, economic support for the hospitality sector will continue as before.
Publicly accessible facilities and businesses
Publicly accessible leisure and recreation facilities will also be allowed to reopen under similar conditions to shops and museums. This means that all areas of zoos and botanical gardens can open. Masks must always be worn in indoor areas and distancing rules respected. However, indoor areas of spa facilities and swimming pools will remain closed.
Events with spectators: outdoors with 100 people, indoors with 50 people
Events with spectators or audiences will once again be allowed. The maximum number of visitors will be limited to 100 people at outdoor venues – such as at football matches or open-air concerts – and 50 people indoors – such as at cinemas, theatres and concerts. Furthermore, attendance will be limited to a third of the venue’s maximum capacity. There will be a seating requirement and masks must be worn at all times. A distance of 1.5 metres must be maintained between visitors at all times, or a seat left free. Food and drink will not be allowed and there should be no intervals.
Other events: no more than 15 people
Other events involving up to 15 people will also be permitted in addition to the private gatherings and sporting and cultural activities already allowed. These include guided tours at museums, club gatherings or other leisure and recreational events. Mask-wearing and social distancing rules still apply.
Sporting and cultural activities for adults involving up to 15 people
The restrictions regarding recreational sporting and cultural activities for adults are also to be eased for individuals or groups involving up to 15 people. Competitions and matches will also permitted under these conditions. Outdoors a mask must be worn or the required distance of 1.5 metres respected. Indoors it will be necessary both to wear a mask and respect distancing rules. Exceptions will be made for activities where it is not possible to wear a mask, such as during endurance training in fitness centres, or when singing in a choir. In these exceptional cases, stricter distancing rules apply.
Sports involving physical contact are still not permitted indoors, and are only permitted outdoors if masks are worn. It is still recommended that sporting and cultural activities take place outdoors and that participants get themselves tested before taking part in sporting and cultural activities.
Face-to-face teaching at higher and continuing education institutions
Face-to-face teaching will once again be allowed on a limited basis in post-compulsory schooling. There may be no more than 50 people in a class and the room may not be filled beyond a third of its capacity. Face masks must be worn and social distancing rules apply.
More widespread testing: No quarantine for businesses
Employees at companies that have a testing plan and that offer tests to staff working on site at least once a week are not required to quarantine if they have been in contact at work with someone who has tested positive. Old people's and nursing homes can exempt residents who have been vaccinated from the requirement to wear a mask. This also applies to residents who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection.
Supply of important and promising medicines
Today, the Federal Council also took decisions on the supply of important and promising medicines against COVID-19. Monoclonal antibody combination therapies and other therapies should be made available in Switzerland as soon as possible. The federal government will cover the costs of these treatments in an initial phase until they are covered by health insurers.
The FDHA has also been tasked to work with the EAER and FDF to examine in detail ways in which the federal government can boost the production and development of COVID-19 relevant medicines (incl. vaccines) in Switzerland. The federal government now has greater scope to act following the amendment of the COVID-19 Act on 20 March.
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Last modification 21.01.2022
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