Switzerland moves towards ‘lockdown light’ as people urged to stay home

People walk in the shopping street during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lausanne, Switzerland

The Swiss government ordered all restaurants, sports and recreation centres closed for a month from Tuesday and urged people to stay home to curb stubbornly high coronavirus infection rates that prompted calls from scientists and medical professionals for tighter measures.

Confirmed cases in Switzerland and neighbouring Liechtenstein have surpassed 400,000 and the death toll has topped 6,000 as the cabinet on Friday backed away from its “middle path” that had aimed to avoid a second business-crippling lockdown.

“The population is urged to stay at home. People should keep their social contacts to a minimum and refrain from non-essential travel and excursions,” the government said in a statement, adding it remained open to imposing further measures in the weeks ahead should the situation worsen.

Individual cantons remained responsible for their own ski resorts, as outdoor sports in groups of five or fewer people remain permitted.

Cantons with low transmission rates can make exceptions to the new rules.

The government shied away from imposing new restrictions on the number of people allowed to assemble in private, or imposing harder lockdown measures such as curfews mandated in neighbouring France, taking a similar ‘lockdown light’ approach as it did during the early months of the pandemic.

Shops can stay open, albeit with further restrictions on the number of people allowed in.

Private gatherings of more than ten persons are currently prohibited in Switzerland.

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