Swiss say shops, museums can reopen on March 1

By: AFP      Published: 09:46 PM, 24 Feb, 2021
Swiss say shops, museums can reopen on March 1

Switzerland announced Wednesday that shops, museums and zoos can reopen from March 1 -- the first steps out of Covid-19 restrictions and into the "gradual normalisation of social and economic life".

The Swiss government announced that non-essential shops, museums and library reading rooms will reopen, along with outdoor sports and leisure facilities, zoos and botanical gardens.

Outdoor events for family and friends and sports and cultural activities involving up to 15 people will also be permitted.

"With this cautious reopening, the Federal Council is aiming to achieve a gradual normalisation of social and economic life, even though the epidemiological situation remains precarious because new, more infectious variants of the virus are circulating," the government said in a statement.

"The initial reopening phase from March 1 essentially involves activities that allow people to wear masks and maintain social distancing, and that only involve small numbers of people or meeting outdoors."

Restrictions aimed at reining in the coronavirus pandemic were imposed in December and January following a major spike in case numbers.

The government intends to ease off the measures in stages.

The next stage in reopening is scheduled for March 22, when the government hopes to allow the opening of outdoor areas at restaurants, changes to the requirement to work from home, and a limited number of spectators at sporting and cultural events.

"If the epidemiological situation improves in the coming weeks, it will also consider reopening indoor areas in restaurants," the government said.

More than 550,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Switzerland, population 8.6 million, while more than 9,200 people have died.

More than 675,000 vaccine doses have been administered, giving Switzerland one of the better doses per population rates in Europe.