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No mass events likely in Switzerland before next summer

A senior epidemiologist says it will take more than 12 months for daily life in Switzerland to go back to normal if a new wave of the corononavirus pandemic is to be prevented.

Marcel Tanner, a member of the government’s Covid-19 task force, does not expect a vaccine against the infectious disease to be available within 15 to 18 months at the earliest.

“There won’t be any football matches with mass spectators or concerts [this summer],” Tanner told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

Tanner, a former professor of epidemiology at the University of Basel and director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, expects the government to ease restrictions on public and private gatherings of  more than five people sooner.

He also said he expected that most people can go back to work in June if the necessary safety precautions are respected, including in public transport.

“We can be pragmatic about this,” he said. “Personally, I’d prefer to make the wearing of masks mandatory in public transport.”

Tanner is sceptical that it will be possible to resume our routines in daily life very soon.

He says it would take at least 60% of the population to develop an immunity against coronavirus. Tanner believes this could take up to the autumn of 2021.

Tanner also rejected criticism by various interest groups which want the government to ease the lockdown for the business community quickly.

The government strategy foresees a gradual relaxing of restrictions as of next Monday, followed by a further step on June 11, depending on the number of new infections.

Details are to be announced next week.