Swiss to close eating places, different websites as virus circumstances climb

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Swiss to shut restaurants, other sites as virus cases climb

A waitress with a protective mask watches a television at a press conference in Bern, on which the Swiss Minister of the Interior and Health Alain Berset, as part of the "Les Boucaniers" in Lausanne (Switzerland) on Friday, December, was introducing new measures against the coronavirus (COVID- 19) announces 18, 2020. The Swiss government announced on Friday that it would order restaurants, bars, cultural venues and sports facilities to close next week in an effort to contain a sustained surge in coronavirus cases. (KEYSTONE / Jean-Christophe Bott)

The Swiss government announced on Friday that it would be ordering the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural venues and sports facilities next week in an effort to curb the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases.

The measure comes barely a week after the authorities have reopened restaurants and water points in much of western Switzerland.

The closings, which will come into effect Tuesday and run through January 22, are necessary because "hospitals and healthcare workers have been under extreme pressure for weeks and the festive season increases the risk of cases rising even faster," said the Government said in a statement.

"The coronavirus will not let us go this vacation. The situation remains critical. That is why stricter measures have been decided," said Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga at a press conference.

"We need all of Switzerland now," Sommaruga said after acknowledging that some regions were more hesitant than others about the new restrictions.

The government said it is reviewing new aid to affected businesses and compensating "cultural actors" for financial losses while expanding eligibility for those in dire need of help.

The nationwide action is taking place amid the variability in infection rates across the country, which has underscored the complexities of policy makers trying to balance public health and economic interests.

Just a week earlier, restaurants in French-speaking parts of western Switzerland reopened after a six-week shutdown as the number of cases and deaths rose in late October and early November. Since then, the northern areas near Germany have been badly affected, which has led to calls for new nationwide measures.

The 7-day average of new cases per day in Switzerland has risen in the last two weeks from around 43 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants on December 3 to just over 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants on Thursday.

"The situation and development of the pandemic is not in line with our goals," said Health Minister Alain Berset.

The government also continues to limit the number of people who can be in stores that must close after 7 p.m. and on Sundays and public holidays.

The federal government left it to the 26 cantons or regions of Switzerland to decide whether the ski facilities should be closed. Their continued operation has raised concerns in several neighboring countries of Switzerland where ski stations have been closed to prevent the pandemic from spreading.

The new restrictions add to a plethora of pre-existing measures, including restrictions on the size of public and private gatherings, broader requirements on the wearing of masks, a ban on choral singing outside of home or school, and calling out from home if possible to work.

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Swiss close restaurants, locations other than virus cases rise (2020, December 18)
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