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Cantons boost anti-Covid measures amid fears situation getting ‘out of control’

More mask wearing from Monday in canton Appenzell Outer Rhodes © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Appenzell Outer Rhodes and Schwyz have become the latest cantons to announce major new restrictions, as concerns grow about the rise in cases and pressure on hospitals.

This content was published on October 25, 2020 - 15:59
Cantonal statements/Keystone-SDA/SonntagsZeitung/Blick/ilj

Appenzell Outer Rhodes said on Sunday morning that the number of cases and hospitalisations due to Covid-19 “were rising drastically, the situation in the canton, as well as in the country, is at risk of getting out of control”.

“This is why the Appenzell Outer Rhodes’ government has introduced measures earlier than proposed on the federal level.”

Cantons are currently in charge of Covid restrictions in Switzerland, although the government plans to announce national measures on Wednesday.

The canton has extended mask wearing considerably, including to outdoor areas of institutions and companies (like shops, theatres, restaurants) and at work from Monday. Discos will be closed, events with more than 50 people banned, as will private events with friends and family that have more than 15 people. Choir concerts and practice will be stopped.

“Every day we have these new measures in place helps ensure that our hospital capacity won’t become overloaded in a very short time," the statement added.

Canton Schwyz followed on by announcing that it would ban private gatherings of more than ten people and limit other events to 30 people. It is also extending areas requiring mask wearing.

"The measures already taken against the Covid-19 pandemic by the canton and government are not enough, as can be seen by the strongly rising cases," the canton said in a statement issued on Sunday afternoon.

Earlier this month Schwyz hospital sounded the alarm over the number of coronavirus cases and appealed for the population to follow hygiene and distancing rules.

Also on Sunday, Canton St Gallen said the number of visitors allowed in care and old peoples' homes would be reduced to two per day from next Tuesday.

Cantons, government

The new measures come as Valais cantonal government president Christophe Darbellay warned in a Sunday newspaper interview that hospitals in his canton, one of the most strongly affected, were at risk of being overwhelmed. He called for more government measures and funding.

The number of new Covid-19 cases in Switzerland has risen sharply in recent days. A total of 6,634 new cases – a record – were reported on Friday.

Many, but not all, Swiss cantons imposed additional drastic measures on Friday to combat the virus, which have largely come into force over the weekend. This follows the Swiss government’s announcement of several national measures on October 18, like the compulsory wearing of masks in public buildings. The government is to set out further measures on October 28.

An outline of these new measures was published in the Blick newspaper on Saturday. They are said to include extending obligatory mask wearing to outside in residential areas, limiting events to 50 people, closing restaurants from 10pm to 6am and moving universities back to distance learning.

There has not been as yet any official confirmation as to the content.

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