Coronavirus: Move towards normalisation and simplified basic rules to protect the population

Bern, 19.06.2020 - As of Monday, 22 June, the measures put in place to tackle the coronavirus will for the most part be lifted. Only the ban on large-scale events will remain in place until the end of August. This follows the decisions taken by the Federal Council at its meeting on 19 June in view of the continuing low level of new cases. All publicly accessible venues must have a set of precautionary measures in place. However, the Federal Council has simplified the applicable requirements. Hand hygiene and keeping an appropriate distance remain the most important protective measures; the Federal Council continues to rely on the public to behave responsibly.

The Federal Council began to introduce measures to protect against the coronavirus on 28 February, and gradually tightened those measures up until 21 March, before gradually easing them again in three phases from 27 April. The number of new infections, hospitalisations and deaths has continued to fall despite measures being eased, and has stabilised at a low level.

Events for up to 1000 people possible
In a fourth phase, the Federal Council is now lifting most of the remaining restrictions as of 22 June. Events and gatherings for up to 1000 people will once again be permitted. However, contact tracing must be possible at all times. Event organisers must ensure that the maximum number of people that may need to be contacted does not exceed 300. This can be achieved by dividing the venue into sectors. The cantons may see fit to apply a lower number. Large-scale events for more than 1000 people will be permitted from the beginning of September, as long as there is no deterioration in the epidemiological situation. Those attending will also have to be placed in sectors.

As of 22 June, there will no longer be a requirement for customers at restaurants to be seated. The Federal Council is also lifting the fixed closing time for restaurants, discos and nightclubs.

Simplified basic rules for all
Following the steps to ease measures, the Federal Council is relying even more heavily on the public to behave responsibly; people should continue to follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing. The Federal Council has also simplified and harmonised requirements for sets of precautionary measures. All publicly accessible venues must have a set of precautionary measures in place. There are to be no special rules for individual categories of establishments, events or educational institutions. The same requirements will apply for all sets of precautionary measures; there are to be no more model sets of precautionary measures.

In view of the low number of cases, the Federal Council is reducing the minimum distance that should be kept between two people from 2 metres to 1.5 metres. There is a significant risk of infection if individuals spend longer than 15 minutes at a distance of under 1.5 metres. If masks are worn or partitions are in place, the distance may be further reduced. At events with fixed seating, such as at concerts or in cinemas, it is sufficient to leave a free space. If it is not possible to implement distancing measures at an event or in schools, attendance lists must be kept so that contacts can be traced in the event that someone tests positive for coronavirus.

Masks: Always have one with you on public transport, mandatory at demonstrations
Masks can significantly reduce the risk of infection. Members of the public are therefore strongly recommended to wear a face mask when using public transport if it is not possible to maintain the necessary distance. All travellers should always have a face mask with them. There is no upper limit for the number of people able to attend a demonstration, but it will be mandatory to wear a face mask. This change concerning political and civil society demonstrations will apply from Saturday, 20 June.

Recommendation to work from home lifted
The decision as to whether staff should work from home or return to the office is now one for employers. The recommendation to work from home is to be lifted, as are the guidelines on protecting people at especially high risk. These individuals may also return to the workplace, however the employer is required protect the health of staff by putting in place appropriate measures. Employment legislation applies. The simplified basic rules also apply to trade and industry, as well as to service businesses not accessible to the public. No sets of precautionary
measures are required.

Managing a renewed increase in infections
Following today's downgrading of the situation from extraordinary, the Federal Council discussed ways of managing a possible second wave. In contrast to the first wave, the prime responsibility in the event of a renewed increase in COVID-19 cases should rest with the cantons. Cantons that observe an increase in the number of cases of infection should be able to take suitable measures to manage the situation, focusing on those measures that have proven to be particularly effective against the spread of new infections. In order to be ready to manage an outbreak of new infections, the Federal Council issued the departments with a series of tasks to enable it, for example, to have rapid access to detailed data, or ensure the supply of necessary medication and protective equipment.

At its meeting today, the Federal Council also acknowledged the final report of the Federal Council Coronavirus Crisis Unit, and took the decision to dissolve the unit to coincide with the downgrading of the situation. The KSBC was set up by the Federal Council on 20 March to coordinate the efforts of the government departments, the Federal Chancellery, the cantons and other crisis units.

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