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Covid-19 Few masks or commuters seen in Swiss stations

Images of the first day after lockdown opening schoolsd stores and restaurants

As the second stageexternal link of easing the Covid-19 lockdown begins in Switzerland, the main train stations in Bern and Zurich lacked their usual bustle, despite public transport returning largely to normal. 

In the Swiss capital Bern on Monday the first intercity trains to and from Zurich and the western Swiss city of Lausanne were moderately busy, so distancing rules could be observed without any problems. Only a few passengers were wearing protective face masks on trains and in the station. 

Transport companies recommend passengers wear a mask when space is tight and urge people to avoid unnecessary travel. Commuters have been told to avoid rush hours and to switch to less-popular routes whenever possible. 

Many Swiss people are expected to continue working from home. What’s more, vocational and secondary schools will not resume normal operations until June 8. 

Compulsory schools (with pupils up to the age of 16) are re-opening, albeit to a lesser extent. Shops, cafés, restaurants, fitness centres, libraries and museums are also allowed to open, provided they have taken precautions. 

Graphic of government's easing plan
(Kai Reusser /

However, complete normality is still a long way off. Social rules to combat the coronavirus pandemic still apply. Outside the home, a minimum distance of two metres must be maintained. 

Meanwhile, many shops tried to attract customers with discounts on the first open day. In some places, clothes were up to 30% cheaper, leading to occasional queues.

Access to shops remains limited, as only one person per ten square metres is allowed into outlets. The floors of the shops are partly covered with distance markings and directional arrows. Some places provide staff and customers with protective masks on request. 

In restaurants only four people or a family are allowed per table. The minimum distance between tables must be maintained or there must be a partition. Bars and restaurants must ask for a guest’s contact information, but the guest is not obliged to give it. Restaurant staff must clean and disinfect after each guest.

In Ticino, the Italian-speaking southern canton which has been particularly affected by the coronavirus, roads were quite busy despite wet weather in the capital Bellinzona. Only a few people were wearing protective masks. Cafés were around half full, mainly with young men drinking espressos.

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