Swiss interior minister hints at some relaxing of pandemic measures

Alain Berset, as seen earlier this month Keystone / Anthony Anex

Alain Berset has called for the public to be patient during the coronavirus pandemic over the semi-lockdown. The health minister has, however, said that the government may consider loosening some of the measures.

This content was published on February 12, 2021 - 12:41
La Liberté/Keystone-SDA/ilj

Calls have been mounting for the government to ease the current semi-lockdown in which non-essential businesses as well as restaurants and bars have been temporarily closed. The measures were imposed mid-January to curb the spread of Covid-19, amid more contagious virus strains.

A petition calling for an end to the semi-lockdown has already gathered 210,000 signatures.


“Last week the government said that people should not expect all measures to be lifted on February 28. We have to remain a bit cautious. But we see what is happening. We understand the frustrations and we also want there to be re-openings,” Berset said in an interview published in La Liberté and several other French-speaking publications on Friday.

Asked whether the plan could be to open shops but not restaurants on March 1, Berset said that unfortunately people would need “a bit of patience”.

The government will meet on Wednesday to decide on the next steps. After that the cantons will be consulted.

Rejected criticism

Berset once again rejected criticism of the government’s pandemic management and brushed off suggestions that the government had no efficient strategy for fighting the pandemic.

On Friday the country recorded 1,253 new cases of the coronavirus, down 19% on the previous week. But cases with the new variants had risen to 5,549 in total (up from 5,311 on Thursday). The first cases of the Brazilian variant in Geneva were also confirmed on Thursday, after the first Swiss-wide case in Zurich earlier this week.

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