Restaurants closed until the end of February


The Federal Council intends to extend the closure of the structures for culture, leisure and sport by another 5 weeks: the final decision will be on 13 January - The cantons are called upon to comment on further possible tightening of the measures - Alain Berset:

Restaurants closed until the end of February
Restaurants closed until the end of February

Restaurants closed until the end of February

Restaurants closed until the end of February

Measures implemented in December to counter the contagion curve in Switzerland are not having the desired effect. The Confederation technicians continue to speak of stagnation upwards. Today the Federal Council met to analyze the epidemiological trend in the country and extend the provisions currently in force. To inform the public and media representatives on the issues discussed in the session this morning, the Government held a press conference at 2 pm which was attended by Federal Councilor and Head of the Federal Department of the Interior Alain Berset as sole speaker.. Also present was Virginie Masserey, Head of the Infectious Diseases Section of the Federal Office of Public Health.


Ladies and gentlemen Alain Berset began. I believe that after the holidays and after these weeks of 2021 we all wanted to put an end to this pandemic and find our freedom. However, we see that the moment remains difficult. The situation is not good, indeed it is bad. Although the figures are difficult to interpret considering the holidays. But they do not reduce, the level is high. There are several elements that accompany us, some as positive as the vaccine. For other issues, I am thinking above all of the variants of the coronavirus that are also circulating in Switzerland, we are trying to understand what they mean.

Infection level are too high

In Switzerland the level of infections remains high. Both in terms of infection, hospitalizations and deaths. «The reproduction rate is increasing» Berset said. «Mortality remains also too high. And if we take a look at the international context, we have a whole series of countries that have closed their activities in an important way, such as the United Kingdom. But Germany is also already in the third-fourth lockdown and the situation in some regions is impressive. The range of mobility is only 15 km and only one person outside the household can be seen. This is the situation at the beginning of 2021, we must take this into account. For this reason, based on this news, we have made certain decisions. However, I was saying, the vaccination campaign has started and I am sure that the situation will improve ».

The vaccine, however, is not going to improve things overnight. «The image of the marathon, chosen to talk about the pandemic, is fitting,« reiterated Berset. «We must not abandon the race, continue our efforts. Naturally the population is tired - families affected by grief. But I also think of all the operators who make society live, such as gastronomy, sport and free time, who are paying the price. We understand that it is frustrating, difficult». The watchword, today as never before, is solidarity.

We have some time

The Federal Councilor made it clear that Switzerland will have to do everything possible to contain this wave. “What China did months ago had bought us time. The United Kingdom communicated transparently in December and allows us to see what could happen to us too“. “There is some time, in short and we must use it to avoid a third wave that would have a devastating effect on hospitals and the number of deaths“. A wave, the third, which would also affect the vaccination campaign. “Furthermore, we must do everything to avoid another lockdown with all the consequences of the case“. Then, the head of the Federal Department of the Interior listed the measures taken by the Federal Council. “We are aware of the harshness of the measures. The closure of the activities was scheduled until January 22“,

We must have a homogeneous situation

Meanwhile, cantonal exceptions have been lifted. “Today we must have a homogeneous situation throughout the territory“ Berset said in this regard. “And we will see later if other measures are necessary, such as teleworking which could be made compulsory or additional restrictions and closures. We must foresee, be ready, maybe thanks to the vaccine we will arrive at a better situation but with this virus mutation we have a difficult situation“.

The vaccines? I am thrilled

“I’m thrilled,“ Berset said later referring to vaccines. “We have been talking about it since March 2020, we were preparing to be well placed in terms of vaccines. We had started talking to the producers, we had moved on to the contracts. We must not blush, we are doing well on the first products that hit the market. It was difficult months ago to figure out which projects would come first. We have reserved more than 15 million doses, it is a run-up process that began in March. In December, in six months, we had the first vaccines and we had informed the cantons as early as November. In early January we left, it went faster than we thought. The doses will increase, we already have half a million for January, one million in February. The doses allow us to vaccinate the entire Swiss adult population in a few months. This is great news, the challenge is certainly great at a logistical level “. The cantons are not all on the same level, “but it is important to achieve uniformity“. Security remains the number one priority. “We have approvals for new products that could be given shortly, quality remains the key point“. The message, however, does not change: “It is not thanks to the vaccine the emergency passes. We must continue to respect social distancing, hygiene measures, the use of a mask“. To date, 2.7% of the population has been vaccinated. The message, however, does not change“

Test yourself as soon as you have symptoms

Berset finally passed the tests: “Do it as soon as you feel the slightest symptom“ he explained. “The tests in recent days and weeks have not yet been fully interpreted, there were holidays and the population has undergone fewer tests. The impression is that the situation was improving, but I repeat that the almost 5,000 new infections today are too many. And we know that healthcare workers have been overloaded in recent days. We don’t know how to go about helping, the situation remains tense. We absolutely cannot afford a third wave, we cannot exclude it but we cannot afford it“.

There will be compensations

The discussion around the pandemic will continue in the coming days and months. “The message from the Federal Council is this consultation launched to extend the measures until the end of February“ said Berset.“ “It is clear that we will have to compensate the sectors involved. We are aware that various sectors are suffering in a special way, which is why we have begun to adopt aid measures since March last year“.

Nobody should be blamed

The reversal of the possibility for the cantons to grant exceptions to the restrictions was also decided to avoid shopping tourism between one canton and another. “Nobody is to be blamed“ Berset stressed. “Nobody knew how to fight a pandemic, we have always had a humble approach and basic flexibility. By constantly adapting. With this increase, we wanted clear rules for everyone, uniformity. It is a hard but clear rule“. Why not tougher decisions now? “Today the feeling is not good but, in fact, the figures are not reliable enough. We want to give ourselves another week. Then we want to consult the cantons and the social partners, affected by the problem. Then, the decisions will be made. In mid-December we hoped the numbers would go down, but now we don’t think the situation will improve anytime soon.

We do not want to close the schools

There was room to talk about the closure of schools too. “we do not want to close them and in any case the cantonal competence on this issue“ reiterated Berset forcefully. “The cantons, however, are ready, at school level, to take other measures. I hope they are not necessary but we must be ready“.

How long to wait between one dose and another?

Immediate help is urgently needed, otherwise it will be failure for many. “It is clear that if the extension of the closure is confirmed the picture will change“ said Berset. As for vaccines, it is not clear how long to wait between doses. “It is known that there are discussions in different senses“ the words of Berset. “We, supported by the scientific task force, embrace the thesis of waiting three or four weeks between one dose and another. I am not a medical specialist, but the goal is to achieve maximum success“.

On the epidemic front, the situation remains tense. The Federal Council therefore plans to extend the measures taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus by five weeks until the end of February. In its extraordinary session today, it discussed this option in depth, on which it will decide definitively on 13 January after consulting the cantons. In the meantime, the latter are called upon to express themselves on a series of possible tightenings. The Federal Council also revoked the possibility for cantons with favorable epidemiological developments to provide for easing. As of 9 January, restaurants and facilities for culture, leisure and sport must therefore remain closed throughout Switzerland.

Currently, the number of infections reflects the epidemiological situation only to an insufficient extent: even if infections have decreased slightly in recent days, it should not be forgotten that fewer tests have been performed and that a new surge after the holidays cannot be excluded. A probability, this, also favored by the presence of the new variants of the coronavirus, much more contagious. The epidemiological situation therefore remains tense: the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as the pressure on health personnel are at very high levels.

A five-week extension

Already today it can be predicted that the number of infections will not significantly and sustainably decrease in the coming weeks. The Federal Council therefore believes that the measures decided on last December 18 should be kept in force beyond January 22. In particular, it proposes extending the closure of restaurants and facilities for culture, leisure and sport by five weeks, ie until the end of February. This option would allow the sectors concerned to plan with greater certainty. At its meeting on 13 January, after consulting the cantons, the Federal Council will take a final decision on the extension of the measures and their duration and on further measures to mitigate their economic consequences.

Consultation of the cantons on the tightening of measures

In the meantime, the Federal Council will submit to the cantons for consultation a series of possible tightening measures which will enable them to react quickly if necessary. The measures envisaged include the obligation to telework, the closure of shops, a further limitation of gatherings and private events, increased protection of people at particular risk and further measures in the workplace. The cantons also need to consider what measures could be taken for compulsory education if the situation requires further action.

The same rules throughout Switzerland

The Federal Council has also decided that the same basic rules must apply throughout Switzerland. The cantons will therefore no longer be able to foresee any relaxation in the event of a favorable epidemiological situation. In this way, the government intends to put a stop to shopping and gastronomic tourism between one canton and another and to strengthen the public’s adherence to health measures. For this purpose, it has therefore decided to amend the COVID-19 ordinance, a particular situation which will come into force on Saturday 9 January.

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