Following our recent post, the COVID-10 situation has worsened in Switzerland, which has lead to the announcement of tighter restrictions by the Federal Council, effective December 20, 2021.
The measures will stay in place initially until January 24, 2022. The new restrictions on public gatherings are being introduced to curb rising infections and ease the burden on hospitals. The Federal Council has also recommended that hospitals postpone non-urgent surgery.
The new rules stipulate that only those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 will be able to access indoor areas such as restaurants, cultural, sporting and leisure venues, and attend indoor events (the 2G rule).
Masks must also be worn in these settings and food and drink may only be consumed while seated. Everyone must provide a negative COVID-19 test in areas where masks cannot be worn, and seating cannot be provided. In settings where masks cannot be worn, or where it is not possible to eat or drink while seated, admission will be limited to vaccinated or recovered persons who also present a negative test result.
A maximum of 30 people aged over 16 can attend indoor private gatherings if everyone aged 16+ is vaccinated or has recovered from COVID-19, but that number is reduced to 10 people if the gathering includes unvaccinated people or who have not recently recovered from an infection. Children are included in this number. The limit for private outdoor gatherings is still 50.
The 3G rule (admission only for persons who have been vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 or have tested negative) still applies for outdoors events with over 300 people.
The testing requirements for entering Switzerland will also change on December 20. In addition to PCR testing within 72 hours prior to travel/ entry, rapid antigen tests taken within the previous 24 hours will also be accepted. The requirement for a second test taken 4-7 days after entering will be no longer be required for those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
At present 66.7% of the population are fully vaccinated, 1.7% have had a single dose, and 31.6% are unvaccinated.
Police in St. Gallen are currently investigating a case involving 6,000 fake vaccination certificates, with the suspects in custody. Fraudulent certificates have been an increasing problem over the past few months across many cantons including Geneva, Moutier and Vaud, with employees of hospitals and vaccination centres often suspected/ charged. Orders are often placed through Telegram or WhatsApp; some done free of charge, but also with prices going up to 800 CHF for a certificate, and payment even able to be made via Bitcoin.
Switzerland recorded 9,941 new COVID-19 infections on Friday, with 1,627 hospitalised and 294 patients in intensive care. To date, over 11,500 people have died.
For full details of the new rules, see the official media release.