Switzerland to scrap most Covid restrictions, including for events

Switzerland’s Federal Council has taken the decision to lift certain Covid-related measures, although isolation in the event of illness to remain until end of March.

From 17 February, masks and Covid certificates will no longer be required to enter shops, restaurants, cultural venues and other public settings and events. The requirement to wear masks in the workplace and the recommendation to work from home will also end.

Switzerland is taking a decisive and important step towards normality,” said Swiss president Ignazio Cassis at a press conference in Bern. “We are learning how to live with the virus.”

At its meeting on 16 February, the Federal Council had taken the decision to lift the majority of measures in place to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Only the requirements to isolate in the event of a positive test and to wear masks on public transport and in healthcare institutions will remain in place until the end of March to protect those at high risk, after which the situation status will return to normal.

The epidemiological situation continues to develop positively, the authorities report, noting that due to the high level of immunity among the population, it is unlikely that the healthcare system will be overburdened despite the continued high level of virus circulation.

The lifting of the certificate requirement means that Covid certificates valid only in Switzerland will no longer be issued although the authorities will continue to issue Covid certificates recognised by the EU.

Once measures are lifted, the Swiss authorities say it will no longer be a need for most economic support measures. Therefore, claims for loss of earnings as a result of business closures, event bans, reduced working hours and a shortfall in outside care will no longer be possible from 17 February.  

An exception applies until 30 June for persons working in the events sector whose employment is significantly restricted due to measures to combat the Covid-19 epidemic.

Switzerland joins a growing group of European countries scrapping nearly all pandemic-related restrictions, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

And Germany’s three-step plan to end most coronavirus-related restrictions has been endorsed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the country's 16 state governors as official figures show Germany's Covid-19 infection rate beginning to drift downward.

Beginning on 4 March, requirements to enter restaurants and bars will be relaxed in. Germany, with a negative test sufficing rather than, as in many areas at present, proof of vaccination or recovery plus a test or a booster shot. Remaining restrictions could be relaxed from 20 March.

Austria, too, has announced that it will drop most of its restrictions on 5 March.