Many in Switzerland were hoping restaurants would re-open on Monday, but the government decided to extend the closure until at least April 14th.
“We must unfortunately continue to be patient”, Health Minister Alain Berset said at a press conference on Friday, adding that “we are simply trying to ensure we do not lose control”.
He pointed out that most neighbouring European countries were adding restrictions, not lifting them, “which is something we are trying to avoid.”
READ MORE: Switzerland to extend measures to fight Covid-19 ‘third wave’
The decision strongest sparked criticism from business associations.
“The disappointment of the hotel and restaurant industry is immense”, the sector’s umbrella group, Gastrosuisse, said in a statement.
“We hope that the Federal Council will finally adopt a reasonable approach to the pandemic. Otherwise, the restaurants probably won’t open at all”, said the group’s president, Casimir Platzer.
That’s because “one in five establishments has already had to close its doors. And an additional 20 percent in the hotel and restaurant industry are about to do so”, he added.
The Swiss Conference of Cantonal Directors of Health also disagrees with the government’s reluctance to fully re-open the economy.
“We regret that the Federal Council is easing much more cautiously than requested by many cantons,” the organisation said.
It particularly criticises the decision not to lift the home work obligation, or at least “the transition from the obligation to work at home to a recommendation to work at home”.
The association of business groups, Economiesuisse, partly understands the government’s decision, but also “regrets the maintenance of the obligation to work from home and the failure to open restaurant terraces”.
“Switzerland is paying the price for the delay in implementing a coherent screening strategy and in acquiring vaccines,” the group said.
Most political parties object to the decision as well.
For the Swiss People’s Party, “it is a slap in the face of the population, traders and businesses”.
Die Mitte / Le Centre Party “regrets that the Federal Council assesses the epidemiological situation, despite the change in strategy towards more screening and vaccination”.
As for the Liberal Party, “unfortunately, it appears that the Federal Council is not prepared to give real prospects to the population and to businesses”, it said in a press release.
However, Liberal Greens praised the decision, saying “the Federal Council is showing firmness and responsibility”.
The Travail.Suisse trade union also considers the Federal Council’s decision “understandable, given the figures which have been on the rise in recent days. It is about remaining cautious”.
One government decision that is supported across the board is that 10 people are now allowed to gather together in private, up from five previously.
“It’s at least a little glimmer of hope as Easter approaches”, said Gerhard Pfister, president of Die Mitte/ Le Centre Party.
READ MORE: Covid-19: What’s the outlook for Easter weekend in Switzerland?
I don’t see the point in continuing to shut down bars/restaurants when 10 people from 10 different households can now legally mix indoors. At least in a bar/restaurant setting, other rules could be enforced such as number of people / households per table, in addition to proper contact tracing. Now it’s a complete free for all and impossible to manage/police. And everybody will act shocked when the cases start to increase again……..it can’t be the bars/restaurants fault this time when they aren’t even open. I guess they will blame it on the ‘easier to transmit’ variants……in which case, if they truly a risk, why are you now allowing 10 people from 10 different households to mix indoors? Shambles.
Shutting us down for more time and then delaying the vaccines – No need to say more, it’s a joke
One can understand the reasonable and flexible approach in a dynamic situation.What cannot be understood is the Astra Zeneca approval.It just reeks to high heaven of invisible power/lobbies .
I would like to understand how the Swiss government can justify allowing people to travel to places like the Maldives over the sportferien in February? My neighbors went to the Maldives for a “maskless” holiday in February and came back with the mutant strain of the virus. They received an alert that they were exposed, so the wife went for a test, which came back negative. The husband and 10 year old daughter did not bother to get tested. Then, after a few days the husband decided to get a test, just to be sure. They were walking around our building, getting their mail, doing their laundry and even went for walks with other neighbors. Sure enough, the husband’s test came back positive. He went into isolation but the wife was still going about her business. Then, she got tested again and her test came back positive. I have no idea if they ever tested their 10 year old daughter. I am livid!! They exposed our entire building to the virus. I have done everything by the books. Shut myself off from society, stayed put in Switzerland, all the while missing my friends and family back home in America to the point of feeling deep depression. How is that justified? Shut down the businesses but let the people travel freely to whichever country will allow them to visit? I’ve always bragged how amazing the government in Switzerland is compared to what I have to compare it to in the US, but their handling of this pandemic is beyond comprehension.