The cantons ask the Federal Council for new measures


The Confederation and the cantons displayed a united front on Thursday in the face of the sharp rise in coronavirus cases. No additional measures were announced. But they will not be long in coming. The authorities intend to act quickly.

“Switzerland is facing a new very negative and very strong dynamic”, admitted the Minister of Health Alain Berset to the press, after a meeting with the cantons. “We knew the winter would be difficult.” The sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, however, has come faster and more sharply than expected.

For eight days, there have been more than 1,000 new cases daily. Wednesday and Thursday, more than 2,500 cases were even recorded. The positivity rate is between 12 and 13%, four times more than two weeks ago. All age groups are affected.

Hospitalizations are under control, but also on the rise, continued the Federal Councilor. Comparing with the situation in other countries, a much larger increase emerges. And to prevent that “the situation is deteriorating more quickly than elsewhere”.

Call to respect the rules

To avoid the overload of hospitals and the closure of the country, the many speakers present have increased the calls to strictly respect social distance and hygiene measures. Contacts should also be reduced.

The pandemic can only be held in check together, stressed the president of the Conference of Cantonal Directors Christian Rathgeb. Without the help of the people, the goal will not be achieved. A new confinement must be avoided at all costs.

“A second national lockdown would be devastating for the economy,” said Urban Camenzind, vice-president of the Conference of Heads of Cantonal Departments of Public Economy. Switzerland is in a serious recession, added the director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch.

The situation remains tense and difficult, in particular in the tourism and events sector, she added. Everything must now be done to bring the health situation under control as quickly as possible. In this context, contact tracing is essential, recalled the Minister of Health. And to advocate for the use of the Swiss Covid application.

Hardening required

No additional measures were announced Thursday. The president of the cantonal conference of health directors, Lukas Engelberger, however called on all the cantons to review their concepts. Hardening is needed, he warned.

Wearing a mask in shops or restrictions in bars, nightclubs and restaurants. These measures are now aimed at all cantons, he continued.

Freedoms will be restricted in order to best protect a normal life. And not just in the public domain. Private meetings could be regulated more strictly, said Engelberger. “There is no point in respecting all the measures at work, if the masks fall off at the aperitif.”

Adaptations to quarantines upon return from a “risky” country also seem to be on the agenda. Some regions on the list of the Federal Office of Public Health have a lower incidence than ours, noted Alain Berset. Large demonstrations, however, should not be affected. “The distances are maintained there, the mask worn and hygiene ensured.”

The cantons keep the reins

The Confederation and the cantons have scheduled a new meeting on Friday. They will then discuss potential additional measures. For the President of the Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, it is important to break the upward trend. “The faster we react, the fewer restrictions there will be on the population, the economy, families and groups at risk.”

There is no question for the Confederation to take the lead again. “We stick to the specific situation,” said Simonetta Sommaruga. The taking of measures remains the responsibility of the cantons.

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