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Call for caution ahead of latest Covid-19 reopenings

Preparing a restaurant terrace to reopen from Monday in Stans, in central Switzerland Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Martin Ackermann, president of the government’s scientific Covid task force, has warned of a “significant risk” ahead of the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions in Switzerland on Monday.

This content was published on April 18, 2021 - 12:41
Sunday press/SWi swissinfo.ch/ilj

He was referring to the fact that from April 19, restaurant terraces, fitness centres and cinemas will be able to open to the public. Easing of restrictions automatically leads to more mobility and contact between people, Ackermann told the SonntagsZeitungExternal link.

“This leads to the virus spreading further and for it being more difficult to break chains of infection,” he said.

Important is that people did not forget to be careful, he said, adding that the effects of the reopening measures should be clear in around three weeks.

Ackermann is not against easing as such, just that it is done carefully. He told the newspaper that he was in favour of strategies that allowed those with vaccinations or negative tests more freedoms, for example as part of a protection concept for events.

The scientific task force has been in the news of later after several high-profile members left, including, most recently neuroscientist Dominique de Quervain, who criticised the “political corset” that stopped the scientists in the task force from expressing themselves fully.

More easing ahead?

Ackermann’s comments about the risks of reopening come amid reports that Health Minister Alain Berset is considering allowing large events with up to 1,000 people from July.

According to the SonntagsBlickExternal link, a concept has been drawn up and will be put before the government on Wednesday. The cantons will also be consulted later on. A second step would see up to 5,000 people being allowed to attend events from September, the newspaper says. But all this depends on how the pandemic pans out, adds SonntagsBlick.

The cantons would certainly like to see more easing of Covid-19 pandemic measures, as the president of the Conference of Cantonal Governments Christian Rathgeb told the SonntagsZeitungExternal link. Key is that more people are vaccinated against the virus quickly and that there is more testing, he said. “Then further easing in single steps is certainly doable soon,” Rathgeb said.

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