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Swiss to allow mass events and lifting of work-from-home rule

The government has decided to open large concerts and sports events under certain conditions as part of a further relaxing of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

The mandatory work-from-home rule will also be lifted as of Saturday, while the wearing of hygiene masks outdoors will no longer be required.

Detailing the latest stage of the government’s phasing-out strategy, Interior Minister Alain Berset announced a series of restrictions to be eased, notably in restaurants, night clubs, amateur sports, education as well as for the travel sector.

Switzerland will allow mass events of over 10,000 people provided attendees can prove they are vaccinated, have recovered from, or have tested negative for Covid-19.

Travel restrictions – i.e. quarantine requirements – will also be dropped for people from the 26 single-border European Schengen countries, and tests will only be necessary those arriving by plane.

Berset said the aim of the country’s travel restriction strategy – which involves quarantine rules for travellers coming from “high-risk” countries – was now to focus on countries where new variants of Covid-19 have been emerging.

More than expected 

“We’re taking a bigger step than expected two weeks ago,” Berset told a news conference on Wednesday. “The epidemiological situation is stable and about 50% of the population will have been vaccinated by the end of June.”

However, the wearing of masks will remain mandatory indoors and the number of people at private gatherings remains limited to ensure that there won’t be sudden flare-ups of infections.

Switzerland reported just over 150 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours, and figures have been steadily decreasing for about three weeks now.

Berset nevertheless warned that the pandemic is not over. “We have to remain vigilant and have to make sure there’s won’t be any surprises,” he said. He added that the government was watching closely the emergence of new Covid variants.

A number of restrictions introduced in January will remain in place and life will only go back to normal when “all the people are vaccinated who wish to be vaccinated”.

On Tuesday the Federal Office for Public Health announced it was in favour of vaccinating children between 12 to 15, but it specified this was not a general recommendation.

Without giving a precise date, Berset hinted that the government would review the situation again at the end of next month.