New coronavirus

The number of infections with the new coronavirus continues to rise. The Federal Council is therefore extending the measures currently in place until 26 April. It then intends to gradually ease the measures. Until then the message remains: stay at home – even if the weather is fine.

Switzerland finds itself in an extraordinary situation. The Federal Council has issued a series of measures aimed at the population, organisations and institutions, and the cantons. The aim is to curb the spread of the coronavirus and assure the provision of healthcare. Further details can be found under Federal government measures. Information on the current situation, recommendations for the public, people at high risk, the workplace, and health professionals can be found here.

New coronavirus: Measures, ordinance and explanations

The Federal Council is extending the applicable measures until 26 April. It is important that we all continue to follow the Federal Council recommendations and stay at home. That way we can continue to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Federal Council has categorised the situation in Switzerland as extraordinary under the terms of the Epidemics Act. It has issued a series of measures aimed at the population, organisations and institutions, and the cantons. These measures are designed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, protect people at especially high risk, and assure the provision of care and therapeutic products to the public.

Entry restrictions for all persons except those from the Principality of Liechtenstein

The Federal Council is taking measures to restrict entry into Switzerland. These measures are intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and assure the provision of adequate care and therapeutic products to the public.

Definition of high-risk countries and areas

In consultation with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA, the Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA defines countries or areas designated high-risk countries or areas. Under the Ordinance of 25 March 2020, all countries are currently considered to be high-risk countries or areas, with the exception of the Principality of Liechtenstein.

All persons with the exception of those from the Principality of Liechtenstein will be refused entry to Switzerland.

Exceptions are possible, for example for persons who live or work in Switzerland. Anyone wishing to enter Switzerland despite the ban on entry must be able to prove that they meet the necessary requirements.

These rules will apply for a maximum of 6 months.

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Measures affecting the public, organisations and institutions

Stay at home

Stay at home. Only leave the home if absolutely necessary. That means:

  • If you have to purchase groceries.
  • If you have to go to the doctor’s or the pharmacy.
  • If you have to help someone.
  • If you are unable to work from home and you have to go to work.

If you are over the age of 65 or have an underlying medical condition, we strongly recommend that you stay at home under any circumstances unless you have to go to the doctor.

Gatherings of more than 5 people are prohibited

Gatherings in public spaces of more than five people are prohibited. Public spaces include squares, promenades and parks. If five or fewer people meet, they must maintain a distance of two metres from one another. Anyone not complying with this rule will be fined.

This ban is valid until 26 April 2020.

Access to Swisscom’s Mobility lnsights Platform

On 21 March the Federal Council prohibited gatherings of more than five people in public spaces. On the basis of mobile communications data we are able to verify whether people are adhering to this measure. We do not receive any information from Swisscom relating to a person’s location; we receive only anonymised and aggregated analyses and visualisations. Individual persons cannot be identified.

The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner FDPIC stated officially on 3 April that data processing by Swisscom and the telecom provider’s transfer of anonymous data to the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH conforms to data protection laws.

Decision regarding access to Swisscom’s Mobility Insights Platform (in German) (PDF, 522 kB, 03.04.2020)

Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner FDPIC:
News 3.4.2020: Data protection legal framework with regard to containing coronavirus
The article contains links to a brief assessment of Swisscom’s data provision and to FAQs (in German).

Ban on classroom teaching at all educational establishments

Classroom teaching is banned at schools, universities and other training and educational institutions. The ban will apply until 26 April 2020.

The cantons are required to ensure that childcare is provided for children who cannot be looked after privately. People at especially high risk may not be involved in such arrangements.

Events and establishments

The Federal Council has banned public and private events. This also includes sporting events and club activities. All establishments open to the public will be closed. This applies to the following:

  • Shops and markets
  • Restaurants
  • Campsites
  • Bars, discos, nightclubs and strip clubs
  • Leisure and entertainment establishments; in particular museums, libraries, cinemas, concert halls, theatres, casinos, sports centres, fitness centres, swimming pools, spas, ski resorts, botanical gardens and zoos.
  • Businesses offering personal services involving physical contact, such as hairdressers, massage parlours, tattoo studios and cosmetic studios

The ban does not apply to the following establishments and events:

  • Food stores and other shops selling articles for everyday use (e.g. kiosks and petrol station shops)
  • Takeaway establishments, staff canteens, meal delivery services and restaurants for hotel guests
  • Pharmacies, drugstores and shops selling medical aids (e.g. eyeglasses and hearing aids)
  • Post offices and sub-post offices
  • Sales points for telecommunications providers
  • Banks
  • Petrol stations
  • Railway stations and other public transport facilities
  • Maintenance facilities for vehicles and other means of transport
  • Public administration (incl. penal institutions)
  • Social work establishments (e.g. shelters)
  • Funerals attended by close family
  • Healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics and medical practices, and practices and establishments run by health professionals under federal and cantonal law (information on health professionals is available in GermanFrench and Italian)
  • Hotels and accommodation establishments
  • Pitches for caravans and mobile homes envisaged for long-term rental or for itinerant travellers.

These establishments must follow the rules on hygiene and social distancing. This can mean, for example, that the number of people present must be limited so as to allow people to keep their distance.

We recommend that penal institutions (prisons and other places of detention) refer to the guidance issued by international organisations, in particular the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Council of Europe, in setting measures to reduce the risk of transmission and combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In certain situations, cantons may allow exceptions to this ban on a limited basis. For such exceptions to be granted there has to be an overriding public interest (e.g. educational establishments, and in the event of supply problems), and comprehensive protective measures must be adhered to.

This arrangement applies until 26 April 2020.

Answers to questions regarding the ban on events and establishments can be found under FAQs.

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Exceptions for cantons at particular risk

The Federal Council can authorise the cantons to limit or suspend the activity of certain branches of the economy for a limited time and for specific regions if the epidemiological situation indicates a particular risk to the health of the population.

The Federal Council may authorise such requests in part or in full, a particular consideration being whether the branch of the economy concerned would be impaired by a lack of cross-border workers.

Businesses able to demonstrate that they comply with the prevention measures under Art. 7d para 1 of the COVID-19 Ordinance 2, may continue to operate.

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Employers must protect people at especially high risk

Employers must allow people at especially high risk to work from home and must undertake the necessary organisational and technical measures.

If a person at especially high risk is only able to carry out their work at the workplace, the employer must make every effort to ensure that the recommended rules on hygiene and social distancing (washing hands and keeping distance) can be respected. They will take the necessary organisational and technical measures. If the employer fails to do so, the business may be closed down.

If an employer is unable to fulfil the abovementioned requirements, he must place the employee on leave while continuing to pay their wages.

Employees at especially high risk must provide their employer with a personal declaration to that effect. The employer may request a doctor’s certificate.

Description of people at especially high risk.

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Provision of the population with food 

Delivery services may deliver food and other everyday items ordered online seven days a week. 

Healthcare provision

The cantons can oblige private hospitals and clinics to accept patients. Hospitals, clinics, medical and dental practices may not conduct non-urgent procedures and treatments.

The Federal Council wants to safeguard the supply of medical goods. To that end, it has issued a series of rules:

  • By introducing a duty to report for important therapeutic products and medical goods it is possible to identify supply shortages in good time and resolve them in a targeted manner. The important medical goods in question will be listed in COVID-19 Ordinance 2, examples of which include ventilators, diagnosis tests, surgical masks or protective clothing, as well as certain medicinal products.
  • The Confederation can centrally procure important medical products, which cannot be acquired via the usual channels, so as to support the cantons and their healthcare institutions, non-profit organisations and third parties (e.g. laboratories, pharmacies). The material will then be distributed centrally.
  • Certain medicinal products may be used in the treatment of coronavirus patients without being licensed by Swissmedic. The prerequisite is that the medicinal products contain an active pharmaceutical ingredient listed in the relevant Ordinance, and that a licence application has been submitted to Swissmedic.

The individual provisions relating to the supply of important medical goods can be found in COVID-19 Ordinance 2

Coordination of supply of important COVID-19 medicinal products (in Germanor French)

Reporting requirement for healthcare providers

The federal government wants to coordinate healthcare. To do this it needs up-to-date information from hospitals. The cantons are therefore required to notify the Coordinated Medical Services (CMS) of how many hospital beds or intensive care spaces are occupied, for example.

Criminal provisions

A failure to adhere to the enacted bans is punishable by a custodial sentence of up to three years or by a fine.

New coronavirus: Protect yourself and others

How can you protect yourself and others against the new coronavirus? The campaign ‘Protect yourself and others’ tells you how you can apply basic hygiene rules and what to do if you experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, a cough and a high temperature.

The main ways the new coronavirus is transmitted

  • By close and prolonged contact: If you’re closer than two metres to a person who has con-tracted the illness.
  • By droplet infection: If one person sneezes or coughs, the virus can be transported directly to the mucous membranes in the nose, mouth or eyes of other people.
  • Via your hands: Infectious droplets can get onto your hands from coughing and sneezing. Or you come into contact with a surface contaminated with the virus. They can then get into your system if you touch your mouth, nose or eyes.

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How to protect yourself and others

Keep your distance.

Keep your distance.

Keep your distance from other people. Infection with the new coronavirus can occur through close (less than 2 metres) contact with someone who is already infected. You can protect yourself and others by keeping your distance.

  • Avoid groups of people.
  • Leave space between you and the person in front of you when standing in line (for example at the checkout, post office or canteen).
  • At meetings leave a seat free between you and the person next to you.
  • Keep your distance from close family and friends at especially high risk.
  • Do not pay visits to care homes or hospitals.

Keep your distance on public transport

The public transport network is vital to the functioning of the economy, and is relied on by many people. The basic service will therefore be provided as normal. However, if a lot of people use public transport at the same time, they cannot keep their distance from each other and so risk becoming infected with the new coronavirus.

Avoid using public transport

If possible, go to work on foot or by bicycle.

If you have to use public transport for some essential reason, observe the hygiene recommendations.

People at especially high risk should not use public transport.

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 Wash your hands thoroughly.

Wash your hands thoroughly.

Handwashing is of crucial importance when it comes to hygiene. You can protect yourself by washing your hands regularly with soap and water.

When should I wash my hands?

As often as possible and in particular:

  • before preparing food
  • before a meal
  • before feeding children
  • after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • every time you come home
  • after using public transport
  • after close contact with materials, equipment or personal items used by people who are ill
  • before putting in or removing contact lenses
  • after taking off a hygiene mask
  • after going to the toilet
  • after changing nappies or accompanying a child to the toilet
  • after putting something in the bin
  • if your hands are dirty

How do I wash my hands properly?

It’s very important to use the right method. Soap helps to render the virus harmless. But only if you get the combination of soaping, rubbing, rinsing and drying right. Here’s how:

  • Wet your hands under running water.
  • Soap your hands – if possible with liquid soap.
  • Rub your hands together until you get a lather. Don’t forget to rub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, under your fingernails and your wrists.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly with running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel, if possible a disposable paper towel or a cloth roller towel.

What else do I have to remember?

  • It is best not to wear any rings. If you are wearing a ring: take it off before washing your hands, clean it with soap and dry it well.
  • Take care of your skin: damaged, chapped skin can be a hotbed of germs. Use cream to moisturise your skin.
  • Keep your fingernails short and regularly use a nailbrush to stop dirt from collecting under your nails.

New coronavirus: People at especially high risk

The new coronavirus poses a particular risk to people over the age of 65 years and those with an underlying medical condition. They may become seriously ill. What should they, as well as younger and healthy people, pay attention to?

The coronavirus can pose a serious risk to people over the age of 65 and to those with underlying medical conditions. We have to make every effort to protect them.

People with one of the following underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic respiratory diseases
  • Conditions and therapies that weaken the immune system
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

How to protect yourself

If you are over the age of 65 or have one of the following underlying medical conditions, you should stay at home.

  • Avoid direct contact with people from outside your household.
  • Have a friend or neighbour do the shopping for you and leave it outside the door.

If you have to go to the doctor’s, go by car, cycle or walk. If that’s not possible, take a taxi. Keep at least 2 metres away from other people.

If you experience symptoms (shortness of breath, a cough and high temperature), call your doctor or a hospital immediately. State that you are calling in connection with the new coronavirus and that you are at high risk. Describe your symptoms.

This is how we can protect ourselves from getting infected

Find out more on the page “Protect yourself and others”.

Progression of the disease

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 Avoid shaking hands.

Don’t shake hands.

Depending on what we have just touched, our hands are not clean. Infectious droplets from coughing and sneezing can get onto your hands. They can then get into your system when you touch your mouth, nose or eyes. It’s therefore important not to shake hands. We can also protect ourselves from infection by:

  • Not shaking hands.
  • Not kissing to greet people.
  • Not touching your nose, mouth and eyes.

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Cough and sneeze into a paper tissue/handkerchief or the crook of your arm.

Cough and sneeze into a paper tissue or the crook of your arm.

Blowing your nose, sneezing, spitting and coughing can all spread viruses if you don’t follow the rules.

How can I reduce or avoid the risk of spreading the virus?

  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing, ideally with a paper tissue.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm rather than into your hands. If you do use your hands, wash them thoroughly with water and soap immediately af-terwards if possible.
  • Only use paper tissues (not cloth handkerchiefs) to blow your nose.
  • If you have to spit, do so into a tissue.
  • Wash your hands every time you cough, sneeze or spit.
  • Use a paper tissue, and use it only once. Then dispose of it.

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Stay at home if you have a high temperature or a cough.

Stay at home from now on.

Except in the following cases:

  • You have to buy groceries
  • You have to go to the doctor’s/to the pharmacy
  • You have to help others
  • You are unable to work from home and have to go to work

If you are over the age of 65 or have an underlying medical condition, we strongly recommend you stay at home!

The only exception:

  • You have to go to the doctor’s.

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Always call ahead before going to the doctor’s or the emergency department.

If you display symptoms of an infection with the new coronavirus:

If you over the age of 65 or have an underlying medical condition you should call a doctor immediately if one or more of the common symptoms occur. Even at the weekend. 

  • Call your doctor to see if you need to make an appointment.
  • Notify your doctor if you are among those at high risk.

If you are under the age of 65 and do not have an underlying medical condition, call a doctor if your symptoms get worse, particularly if you start to have difficulty breathing.

If you are feeling unwell or experiencing health complaints or symptoms not associated with the new coronavirus:

Health complaints, illnesses and symptoms not associated with the new coronavirus still have to be taken seriously and treated appropriately. Seek assistance and don’t wait too long: Call a doctor.

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Recommendations for people at especially high risk

Find out about recommendations for people at especially high risk.

Recommendations for old people’s homes and nursing homes

Nursing and old people’s homes should prohibit visits to safeguard their residents as far as possible from infection.

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