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Switzerland boosting commercial supplies of protective masks

Fabric masks featuring Elvis Presley by Lausanne-based stylist Giovanni Lo Presti. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Masks remain a major preoccupation in Switzerland as the country gears up for a gradual easing of coronavirus-related restrictions.

As of Monday, the government will supply department stores with millions of hygienic masks, leaning on the army’s pharmacy to carry out the distribution, according to the French-language Swiss daily 24 heures.External link An initial supply of 75 million is ready to go.

Masks will be distributed to Swiss supermarket chains Migros and Coop. Migros and Coop will be charging CHF19.7 for a batch of twenty pieces and CHF39.90 for a set of 50 units, according to the report. But not all stores are expected to have masks available on the first day and each customer will only be entitled to one package.

Retail stores Manor and Landi are also looking to stock up on textile masks by May 11, which marks the re-opening of compulsory schools.

The Swiss government has been remiss to recommend the general use of masks by the population.

  + Fraudulent masks offered online

“Healthy people still do not need to wear masks in public spaces,” according to the health authorities.

The use of masks, however, may be warranted on public transport during rush hour traffic or similar settings in which socially distancing is difficult to maintain.

Large-scale exports despite shortages

Switzerland has experienced a shortage of protective masks due to the coronavirus crisis. Nonetheless, companies based in the countries exported 25 tonnes of mask in the first months of 2020. This compares to just 13 kg for the whole of 2019, according to reports by Le Matin Dimanche and the SonntagsZeitung, which cited statistics from the customs authority.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR