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Extraordinary measures Ticino closes all schools to contain coronavirus

School room

Schools have been suspended in Switzerland's worst-hit coronavirus canton.

(© Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

Canton Ticino, which borders Italy, has extended its emergency measures to combat the spread of coronavirus by closing down all schools, including compulsory education establishments.

The announcement on Friday follows a series of measures taken earlier in the week as the canton declared a “state of necessity”, giving the authorities power to act in the interests of public health.

Cantons Vaud and Fribourg also announced similar measures. This was followed by a nationwide closure of schools until April 4.

In Switzerland, education is the responsibility of the cantons, so they can make decisions over school closures. However, the epidemics lawexternal link would allow the government to step in and order blanket or partial school shut downs if necessary.

Ticino is one of the worst affected cantons from the coronavirus outbreak.

The authorities have already shuttered cinemas, ski resorts, gyms, nightclubs and non-compulsory schools. From Monday, all schools from kindergarten to secondary level will be suspended. The authorities said school buildings would be used to establish day care facilities for children.

Among the 12 measures already introduced in Ticino is one that discourages people over 65 from looking after children or taking public transport. Events with more than 50 people have also been prohibited.

The border between Switzerland and Italy remains open to accommodate the 68,000 workers that make the crossing every day. But several smaller border crossing points were closed down on Wednesday.

Air and rail transport links between the two countries have also been restricted.

Switzerland’s prestigious Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne (ETHZ and EPFL) have separately decided to suspend all classroom teaching for the remainder of the semester, which ends on May 29. The universities will temporarily switch to a distance learning model.

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