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Covid-19 – December 18 Update

Because the number of cases are still going up and the hospitals are reaching a crisis level, the government has decided to implement the following measures nationally beginning Tuesday December 22 until at least January 22.

Restaurants will be closed with no exceptions for the holidays. Only company and school canteens and restaurants for hotel guests may remain open. Take-aways and delivery services will also be allowed. Bakeries are allowed to offer the full range of products on Sunday under certain conditions.

Leisure and cultural facilities will be closed. These include museums, cinemas, libraries, casinos and zoos. Cultural activities remain possible in small groups. Events with an audience remain prohibited.

Sports facilities are also closed. Individual and group training indoors is prohibited. Outdoors, sports may be played in groups of no more than five people. Professional games may take place without spectators. Activities for children and young people before their 16th birthday are still allowed, with the exception of competitions.

Exceptions to the above rules are possible in individual cantons. Cantons with favorable epidemiological development can decide on facilitations, such as opening restaurants and sports facilities.

Ski resorts remain open for the time being. However, the ski resorts need a permit from the responsible canton and a comprehensive protection concept to operate; also cantons have to think carefully as accidents also put a strain on the hospitals.

The canton of Lucerne has decided to close all the ski resorts in its canton from December 22 for 1 week, this affects the ski resorts of Sörenberg and Malbach.

Update: the cantons of Lucerne, Zug, Schwyz, Ob- and Nidwalden have all decided to close their ski resorts for 1 week from December 22.

Capacity of stores is further limited. The maximum number of people depends on the freely accessible store space. Stores must remain closed between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. and on Sundays and public holidays (meaning that stores will be closed on the 25, 26 and 27 of December.

The recommendation is to “Stay at home”: People should keep their social contacts to a minimum as well as refrain from excursions.

The use of rapid tests is being expanded. They can now also be carried out without symptoms, for example in homes or at the workplace. Anyone who carries out a rapid test outside the test criteria must pay for it themselves. Pharmacies, hospitals, medical practices and test centers are now allowed to perform all rapid tests that meet the criteria of the FOPH. Bear in mind that the kantonspital has announced that it will limit the number of tests it will offer during the holidays.

The Federal Council refrains from further restricting private meetings. It is sticking to the current regulation with a maximum of ten people. However, it strongly recommends limiting private meetings to two households.

The federal council will be meeting again after Christmas to decide whether these measures are sufficient of whether further measures are needed.

Home office continues to be recommended.

The government will continue to support companies who are in financial difficulty because of these restrictions until end of March 2021.

(source government press release and SRF).

Charlie Hartmann is the managing director of the Livingin organisation which focuses on helping international residents connect, grow and thrive in Switzerland.