Bern extends restrictions for Ticino

PANDEMIC

A green light has been given extending the measures until 3rd May to Ticino - The Federal Council renounces the mandatory use of masks - In addition, a support for start-ups will be provided

Bern extends restrictions for Ticino
@ Archivio CdT

Bern extends restrictions for Ticino

@ Archivio CdT

Federal authorities met in Bern to update the public on news regarding the coronavirus pandemic across Switzerland.

Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of the Interior (FDHA) Alain Berset, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Defence, Protection of the Population and Sports (DDPS) Viola attended the meeting Amherd and Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) Ueli Maurer were present.

In view of the epidemiological situation in Ticino, the Federal Council in its today’s meeting authorised the Canton of Ticino to extend the restrictions imposed in certain sectors of the economy until May 3, 2020. The request sent yesterday by the Council of State was accepted. It will be the last time it will formulated. From May 4th all exceptions will fall in Ticino. “Ticino has recently moved closer to the conditions of the federal ordinance and what was required was limited to the next few days and deemed reasonable - said Federal Councillor Alain Bersetin press conference - In addition, we have taken note of the support from the social partners and the fact that it will be the last exception requested until the 3rd May. That’s why it has been accepted.

Waiver of the obligation of masks

In the coming weeks, the Federal Council will gradually relax measures to protect the public from coronavirus. In this context, it discards a generalised obligation for hygiene masks. The most effective measures to protect yourself from the virus remain those of social distancing and washing your hands, which is according to the recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Sectors and businesses are obliged to accompany the loosening with protection plans in which they can foresee the use of masks. In support of the supply with hygiene masks the Confederation will supply one million to major retailers every day starting next week for a period of 14 days.

Even in the future, healthy people will not need to use hygiene masks in public spaces. The rules of social distancing and hygiene in force remain among the most important measures to protect yourself from the coronavirus. Furthermore, vulnerable, and sick people are recommended to stay home.

The gradual easing of measures to combat coronavirus is accompanied by protection plans that sectors must develop independently and in which they can recommend or envisage the use of masks. Facility managers and event organisers must have a protection plan based on the general plans for the respective sectors or on the requirements of the FOPH and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. The cantons will check on the spot whether these plans are being met.

There is the possibility of foreseeing particular situations, but currently there is no generalised obligation to wear the mask,“ said Federal Councillor Berset during his speech, adding that “the mask does not replace the protective measures one must adhere to”

Masks to protect third parties

Hygienic masks protect other people and only in a limited capacity to those who wear them. It is for this reason that they intervene only as a subsidiary to the rules of social distancing and hygiene. In this approach, the FOPH aligns with the position of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

In the future, filter masks of the FFP2 and FFP3 type are primarily intended for medical personnel, who have the necessary knowledge to use them correctly. Protective cloth masks should not be handcrafted. Manufactured textile masks should also comply with the recommendations of the COVID-19 Science Task Force.

Purchase of masks

As a rule, the purchase of masks falls within the responsibility of the healthcare sector, businesses, and households. The Confederation is in contact with various retailers so that the country’s supply of masks is ensured and gradually expanded during the coming weeks. During the first phase, the Army Forces, commencing next week and for a period of 14 days, will supply the major retail traders with one million masks a day. The Confederation also supports purchases as far as possible and on a subsidiary basis if the application cannot be covered through the usual channels. The Army Pharmacy has so far distributed 21 million hygiene masks to the cantons. The stocks of the Confederation, which are constantly being expanded currently amount to 18 million hygiene masks and 1.2 million filter masks of the FFP2 type. As for the certification of the masks that will be made available next week, the army pharmacy manager Markus Näf said that “quality assurance is a very complex issue. As for the army forses, large volumes are created precisely to ensure good quality. In addition, there is a team that checks the goods when they arrive in Switzerland and we test the product in the laboratory to guarantee certification “.

Restrictions remain on offer for retailers

The Federal Council also agreed to maintain the current supply restrictions across grocery stores returning to the decision of 16th April. As part of the transition strategy, it has been decided that from 27th April 2020 grocery stores can sell items that are not deemed as basic necessities. The decision raised several questions, concerning the practical implementation in large retail businesses and the unequal treatment between them and specialised businesses. Specialised businesses are expected to reopen on 11th May 2020.

Limitation of non-urgent medical tests from a medical point of view

In agreement with the cantons, the Federal Council also today regulated the limitation of non-urgent medical examinations in hospitals. On April 16th they decided to lift the national ban with effect from April 27th and to allow hospitals to carry out so-called elective interventions again. The cantons are still required to guarantee sufficient capacity in the stationary sector for the treatment particularly of patients with COVID-19, but they are regaining the right to limit elective interventions or to oblige, Hospitals should also keep a sufficient supply of important medications for COVID-19 patients and other medically urgent treatments.

Army support service under Parliament’s scrutiny

In March, the Federal Council decided to use the army as a support service for civilian authorities to manage the current coronavirus crisis. The measure initially provided for a maximum number of 800 soldiers, which according to the growth of the situation was increased to 8,000 soldiers. This quota can be maintained and used to support civil authorities until the end of June. If the occupation concerns more than 2000 soldiers or lasts more than three weeks, the Federal Assembly must approve it in the following session. The Federal Council therefore adopted, for the attention of Parliament, the draft of a federal decree and the related message.

It has also been decided that the military will receive the full allowance for days on support service that exceed the duration of the education service scheduled for the current year. Service days will be counted up to a maximum of two repetition courses. “In recent weeks there have been 365 requests for support and the task of the soldiers engaged in the area is also to relieve the activities of the border guards,“ said Federal Councillor Amherd.

An aid to hospitals and borders

The military primarily provides support to civilian public health. With military education recognised by the Red Cross, health and hospital soldiers relieve health personnel, for example, in basic care, patient monitoring, diagnostic tests and patient transport. Healthcare workers can therefore focus more on serious illnesses.

Security authorities, in particular the Federal Customs Administration (AFD), also benefit from military support. Military professionals of the military police as well as appropriate militia formations support the Border Guard Corps in overseeing border and green border crossings as well as in carrying out security tasks in the area of movement of people and channelling of traffic.

All military uses are carried out on the basis of applications submitted by the cantons or federal authorities. In this context, questions came from all the cantons and also from the Principality of Liechtenstein. “100 million masks have been purchased and will be made available - underlined Viola Amherd - 21 million of which have been distributed to the cantons. The remaining money has been invested in the purchase of other masks which, however, have not yet arrived de facto. Healthcare companies and households are self-responsible, in the sense that they can deal with the supply of masks. However, the army pharmacy will make one million masks available next week, “she added.

Funding from the army budget

In its message, the Federal Council explains how to finance the additional costs generated by the job. The total amount of costs depends on the size of the support service, or above all on the number of soldiers called into service and the duration of their use. At the moment it cannot therefore be calculated definitively. Employment costs will in principle be absorbed within the limits of the budget allocated to the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS). However, if this is not possible, the DDPS will ask for additional credit.

Federal support also for start-ups

Innovative start-ups are an important factor for the Swiss economy. But the measures adopted so far by the Federal Council only took part of the specific business models of start-ups into account, which so far have only been able to benefit from emergency measures to a limited. For this reason, some cantons have taken additional measures in recent weeks. However, with the withdrawal of some investors and the consequent delays and interruptions in the financing cycles, a need for intervention remains. The Federal Council therefore examined how to avoid insolvency caused by the coronavirus pandemic for sustainable start-ups.

Switzerland is one of the world leaders in innovation and start-ups

shared Ueli Mauer. “Start-ups that need support can turn to their canton and it will then be the latter, together with the company, who will decide the potential. These will have financial support divided into a third by the canton of residence through the model of the guarantees and two thirds by the Confederation. A model similar to that applies to SMEs, “said the Federal Councillor.

Quick implementation in the foreground

In view of the extreme urgency, today the Federal Council has decided to apply the guarantee system already in place for SMEs also to start-ups. This solution allows for quick implementation, as it does not require time -consuming legislative changes.

A new start-up procedure will therefore be created by 30th April 2020 under the existing bank guarantee scheme. The Confederation will be able to guarantee 65% of credit and the canton the remaining 35%. It will be up to the individual cantons to decide whether to make this guarantee for SMEs available to their start-ups. Some cantons have already allocated large sums to support start-ups in other ways.

If a canton offers this tool, start-ups can submit a request for a guarantee to the competent cantonal service by 31st August 2020. If necessary, to examine the request, the service may turn to an advisory council specifically set up by the Swiss Agency for the Promotion of Innovation (Innosuisse). If the latter agrees to the request, it will be sent to an organisation that grants guarantees recognised by the Confederation. The organisation will issue a confirmation of surety that the start-up can use to request a credit from any bank. With this approach, the Confederation can guarantee up to CHF 100 million. Credits of up to CHF 154 million can be guaranteed together with the cantons.

By 30th April 2020, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, in agreement with the cantons and organisations that grant interested guarantees, will create practical conditions for the use of the instrument and publish a list of the cantons and competent services involved, as well as further details on the procedure.

“It is crucial that the economy is supplied with liquidity in order to function. The surety program has worked, and we are the only country in the world to have adopted this strategy. As far as abuse is concerned, we are below 1% and so far, no concrete cases have surfaced, “concluded Mauer.

Can masks be recycled?

“Hygienic masks are used in the professional and health sector and obviously worn correctly. Private individuals, on the other hand, are taking their first steps in this direction and not everyone is able to make exact use of them. There is the possibility of reusing hygiene protection, but we still don’t know if it is effective or not,” Daniel Koch replied to a question.

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