Switzerland Lifts All Pandemic Restrictions17 February 2022
Swiss federal government decided to lift all the pandemic restrictions from February 17th as fears that health system might not be able to process surging number of infections has diminished.
Swiss federal government has decided to lift all the pandemic restrictions from midnight, February 17th, as it announced on Wednesday. The fears the health care system might get overwhelmed by the surging number of the Omicron variant infections have diminished in recent days thus the decision to step back from all restrictions. The only requirement that will stay still in place is the obligation to wear masks on public transport and while visiting healthcare facilities. Also mandatory five-day isolation for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 will remain in force till end of March. Other restrictions are scrapped altogether for the first time in almost two years. All shops, restaurants and cultural institutions are now freely accessible.
Economy Has Been Waiting
The signs that restrictions could be lifted were given around two weeks ago, and the economy, business have been waiting impatiently for this to happen. "We have been waiting for this moment for a long time", said Casimir Platzer, head of the Gastrosuisse catering sector lobby. Restaurants, hotel owners are happy that there is no requirement for guests to show COVID-19 certificate anymore. This might result in higher number of visits. Data showed that in 2020 overnight stays in hotels fell by as much as 30%, so the hospitality sector is in very difficult situation. Also in 2020 the economy recorded the worst result since 70’s with the high exchange rate of safe-haven CHF hurting export. Last year situation got a bit better and Swiss franc exchange rate stabilized, but still the economy need to recover a bit to come back to pre-pandemic growing trend.
Light on the Horizon
As for the pandemic, Switzerland’s President Ignazio Cassis told a news conference in Bern that: "The light on the horizon is very visible. The virus is there. We are learning how to live with the virus.” He added though that the government was ready to reimpose restrictions whenever needed. Despite tens of thousands of new infections each day, the Swiss health care system is doing well with the occupancy of beds at intensive care units declining. "The acute phase is over," stated Health Minister Alain Berset, while adding Switzerland would maintain vaccination capacity. As of now more than 90% of Switzerland's population of 8.6 million people are immune to the virus due to being vaccinated or recovered. More than 2.6 million infections have been reported in Switzerland and neighbouring Liechtenstein since the beginning of the pandemic and around 12,600 people have died form COVID-19.