connect, grow & thrive.

January 13. 2021 – Coronavirus update

The government has just announced that the current measures will be extended until end of February and that further measures need to be put into place. This because the two new virus variants are highly contagious (up to 50 to 70%) and they want to prevent this spread as the R rate is already climbing back over 1 in most of the country. The cases of people sick with the new virus is doubling every week under the current measures and should no further measures be taken there is a real risk that Switzerland be in a similar as the UK in a couple of months time.

The measures adopted in December will be extended by five weeks until end of February. Restaurants and cultural, sports and leisure facilities will remain closed until the end of February.

Furthermore from Monday, January 18, stores and markets will be closed. Excluded are stores and markets that offer goods for daily use. It will still be possible to pick up ordered goods on the spot. The regulation stating that stores, gas station stores and kiosks must remain closed after 7 p.m. and on Sundays is lifted.

A maximum of five people may participate in private events. Children are also counted towards this number. Crowds in public spaces are also limited to five people.

Employers are obliged to arrange home office wherever this is possible due to the nature of the activity and can be implemented with reasonable effort.

Where home office is not or only partially possible, further measures will be enacted at the workplace: Masks are now mandatory to protect workers indoors wherever more than one person is present in a room. A large distance between workplaces in the same room is no longer sufficient.

In addition, the dispensation from the obligation to wear a mask has been specified at the request of the Conference of Health Directors and following experience in enforcement: A certificate from a physician, psychotherapist or psychotherapist is required for proof of medical reasons; a certificate may only be issued if this is indicated for the person concerned.

Particularly vulnerable persons will be specifically protected. To this end, the right to home office or equivalent protection in the workplace or leave of absence for particularly vulnerable persons is introduced. For vulnerable persons in occupations where the protection provisions cannot be implemented, the employer must release the affected employees from their work duties with full payment of wages. In these cases, there is an entitlement to corona income compensation.

Schools and ski resorts will remain open for the time being, but this could change.

Because of these measures the government is aware that many companies are going to be in financial trouble. For this reason they have decided to offer financial help for the following cases:

  • No more need to provide proof of a drop in sales in the event of closure: Those businesses that have been closed by the authorities for at least 40 calendar days since November 1, 2020 (in particular restaurants, bars and discotheques as well as leisure and entertainment businesses) are now automatically considered hardship cases. They no longer have to provide proof of a 40 percent drop in sales.
  • Consideration of sales declines in 2021: Companies that suffer sales declines in the months of January 2021 to June 2021 in connection with measures ordered by the authorities to combat the Covid 19 epidemic can now use the sales of the last 12 months as the assessment basis instead of the annual sales in 2020.
  • Administrative relief: Closed companies have to provide less evidence than “normal” hardship cases.
  • Upper limits for A-fonds-perdu contributions increased: Cantons can now make contributions of up to 20 percent of annual sales (previously 10 percent) and up to CHF 750,000 per company (previously: CHF 500,000) for all companies. This is intended to give better consideration to companies with high fixed costs. It will also make it possible to cover any extension of the closures beyond the end of February 2021.

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