The Swiss government lifts almost all COVID-19 restrictions
The Swiss government lifts almost all COVID-19 restrictions

The Swiss government lifts almost all COVID-19 restrictions

People stand in line at a test tent with coronavirus (COVID-19) at Stadtspital Triemli Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland 13 January 2022. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann

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ZURICH, February 16 (Reuters) – Switzerland will lift almost all of its coronavirus pandemic restrictions from midnight, the government said on Wednesday as fears disappeared that an increase in infections driven by the Omicron variant would overwhelm the healthcare system.

The government said only the requirement to wear masks on public transport and while visiting health facilities will remain temporarily in force after the changes, which end nearly two years of restrictions on public life.

“The light on the horizon is very visible,” President Ignazio Cassis said at a news conference in Bern, although he added that the government was ready to reintroduce curbs if necessary.

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“The virus is there. We are learning to live with the virus,” he said.

Mandatory five-day isolation of persons tested positive will also remain in effect until the end of March.

But shops, restaurants and cultural institutions would be freely accessible, said the government, which pressed on with measures it had marked for two weeks. Read more

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Casimir Platzer, head of the Gastrosuisse catering sector’s lobby, welcoming the conclusion of a requirement for guests to show a special COVID-19 certificate to enter bars and restaurants.

More than 90% of Switzerland’s population of 8.6 million people have obtained protection against the virus, either after recovering from COVID-19 or being vaccinated, officials note.

Despite tens of thousands of new infections reported daily, the health care system has held up well and the occupancy of intensive care units has decreased.

More than 2.6 million infections has been logged in Switzerland and neighboring Liechtenstein since the start of the crisis. About 12,600 people have died from the disease.

“The acute phase is over,” said Health Minister Alain Berset, but he added that Switzerland will retain the vaccination capacity to be on the safe side.

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Reporting by John Revill, Michael Shields and Stephanie Nebehay

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