The Swiss governmentannounced a further relaxation of COVID-19 limits, enabling restaurants to reopen outdoor terraces as early as next week and sporting activities to be held with spectators.
Cinemas, theaters, and concert halls will be able to reopen on Monday, April 19, according to the authorities, but visitors will be required to wear masks and maintain a discreet distance apart.
It also stated that universities and adult education centers would be permitted to begin in-person classes at a reduced capacity.
“We should open up cautiously despite rising case numbers because we have a different situation in terms of testing and vaccines,” Health Minister Alain Berset told reporters. “To begin with, the weather has allowed us to spend more time outdoors. Second, many of the most susceptible individuals have also been vaccinated. We believe that taking the gamble is justified.”
Berset explained that the government needed to find an organized way out of the situation so many people had reached their breaking point following 14 months of controls.
Switzerland’s easing compares with Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is pursuing provisional legislative powers to impose coronavirus lockdowns in regions with high infection rates in order to halt the spread of the virus.
In Switzerland, the number of cases has been slowly increasing. The number of cases rose by 2,601 on Wednesday, bringing the cumulative number of infections to 627,968. The death toll has risen to 9,844 people.
The government announced that outdoor activities of up to 100 people would be permitted, and indoor venues such as cinemas, theaters, and concert halls would be permitted with up to 50 people.
Before announcing further relaxation, Berset said the government must assess the impact of the reopening. “What we’re trying to do is reopen in a responsible manner so that we don’t lose control and can prepare our next moves,” he said. “However, that would be contingent on how the pandemic develops.”