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Swiss army ‘ready’ for second virus wave

The Swiss army says it is ready to tackle a possible second wave of coronavirus cases and has planned accordingly, says spokesman Stefan Hofer.

It can provide soldiers to help if called upon to do so by the federal government, he said on Wednesday, adding that the army will only carry out services that society can’t provide.

Specific units or entire battalions are also ready to provide support to the authorities within three or four days. According to the army spokesperson, the army has sufficient personnel for a second wave or in an emergency.

The army got a historic call-up in March to help tackle the initial wave of coronavirus infections. After nearly three months of a declared “emergency situation” and national semi-confinement, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths dropped sharply and restrictions have been gradually eased.

However, the number of cases has recently been creeping up again and the government has responded notably by imposing the wearing of masks on public transport nationwide.

Since the cantons have reassumed their traditional decision-making powers, some have taken further steps to contain the spread of the virus, such as compulsory wearing of masks in shops in western cantons Vaud and Jura.

On Wednesday, four north-western cantons (two cantons of Basel, Solothurn and Aargau) also stepped up protective measures, following the example of Ticino in the south.

They are now limiting the maximum number of guests in restaurants, bars, clubs and events to 100 instead of the previous 300. Only those establishments and events that guarantee a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between people and require their customers to wear masks are exempt from the new limit there.