On 14 April 2021, Switzerland’s Federal Council presented plans to reopen the country further despite a deteriorating epidemiological situation.
From Monday, 19 April 2021, it will 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, said the government.
In addition, restaurants will be able to reopen outside seating areas. 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. But clubs and discos must remain closed.
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 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. 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.
Private gatherings and events involving up to 15 people will also be permitted. These include guided tours at museums, club gatherings or other leisure and recreational events. Mask-wearing and social distancing rules still apply.
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 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.
According to the government, the epidemiological situation remains precarious and has continued to deteriorate in recent weeks. Four of the five epidemiological indicators for reopening are not currently being met but hospital admissions are rising relatively slowly compared to the number of cases of infection and the situation in intensive care units is relatively stable. This probably reflects progress on the vaccination of at-risk groups – almost 50% of those over 80 and around 30% of 70-79-year-olds have been fully vaccinated.
Therefore the Federal Council deems the risk associated with these steps to be acceptable. And those engaging in these activities will be required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing, with a few exceptions.
In its assessment, the Federal Council also took into account the social and economic impact of the measures, especially on young people.
The Federal Council said that it 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.