Switzerland confirms new restrictions to combat Omicron variant

Swiss health minister Alain Berset has urged the public to work together to fight the new phase of the pandemic. Keystone / Anthony Anex

Switzerland has imposed further restrictions on public and private gatherings, tightened Covid certificate rules and expanded mask-wearing requirements as the number of Omicron variant cases increases.

This content was published on December 3, 2021 minutes

On Friday, the government also advised all people to work from home if possible. The measuresExternal link, which come into force on Monday, December 6, have been deemed necessary to prevent the health system from being over-run with coronavirus cases.

The requirement for travellers to quarantine if they arrive from countries with Omicron cases has been lifted as the variant has already arrived in Switzerland. Instead, all arrivals must test for Covid-19 at their own expense before entering the country from December 4.

A further test will be required between the fourth and seventh day of arrival in Switzerland.

Health Minister Alain Berset warned the Delta variant is still not under control while the country is now facing an outbreak of Omicron.

“The situation is very serious,” said Berset. “We didn't want this, but we have to work with reality. Some hospitals have already reached their capacity limits."

The new package of measures was presented as a proposal earlier this week and will now be put into force following consultations with cantons.

From Monday, all people who gather for a public event must show a certificate that indicates whether the holder is fully vaccinated, recovered from Covid or tested negative. A previous exemption for groups of under 30 people has been rescinded.

This requirement will also apply for outdoor events of more than 300 people - instead of 1,000.

Masks will be compulsory at events where certificates are required. People must be seated if consuming food or drink in restaurants and bars and give contact tracing details at sporting or cultural events.

No school testing

People are advised to use Covid certificates at private gathering of at least 11 people, but this is not compulsory.

Event organisers and companies have also been given the option of restricting entry to vaccinated or people who have recovered from the virus – excluding unvaccinated people.

Negative rapid antigen tests will only be valid for 24 hours rather than 48 hours.

But the government has decided against introducing compulsory mass testing at schools following opposition from some cantons.

The number of Covid-19 infections has been steadily rising in recent weeks, with 9,951 new cases recorded on Friday. Just over 65% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

There have been several reports of Omicron cases, with one school in Geneva forced into quarantine after two cases were detected.

On Sunday, voters approved the government’s handling of the crisis by rejecting a challenge to the Covid certificate rules.

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