Covid-19: mass events again allowed in Switzerland

At the EV Zug hockey stadium, new seats are installed in standing areas to meet Covid-19 regulations, September 14, 2020 Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Concerts, football matches, conferences and other large-scale public and private events of more than 1,000 people can take place in Switzerland from Thursday. But the organisers have to meet strict Covid-19 rules to ensure the public’s safety.

This content was published on October 1, 2020 - 10:58
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On August 12, the government announced that events with more than 1,000 people – notably festivals and sporting events – would be again allowed from October 1.

Since the spring, many of Switzerland’s biggest business and cultural events have been cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.

The organisers of the events need permission by cantonal authorities, who base their decision on the epidemiological situation and available tracing capacities. Organisers also have to put in place protection measures.

National football and ice-hockey matches – the most popular sports events in Switzerland – will be again allowed to admit spectators, who must wear face masks and be seated. The maximum number of tickets sold must not exceed two-thirds of the normal capacity. The sale of alcohol will be permitted.

Events companies, and in particular sports clubs and associations, have been lobbying for restrictions to be lifted, arguing that many clubs and businesses would go bust if the 1,000-person limit remained in force.

The easing comes despite recommendations by the government’s Covid-19 taskforce not to lift such restrictions for mass events.

Normalising

Amid the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the government introduced sweeping restrictions on public life in March and started easing them gradually three months later.

However, since mid-June the number of new cases of Covid-19 has been rising slowly. The average case count stands at just under 60 per 100,000 residents and the number of new daily infections is 315.4 (seven-day average).

Interior Minister Alain Berset, who is responsible for health matters, said Switzerland was one of the first countries in Europe to authorise a return of mass events.

“It’s another step towards normalising the situation without losing control,” he said in August.

He stresses that the coronavirus situation is under control but that things could change quickly and that the population must “learn to live with the virus for some time”.

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