Non-essential shops closed, compulsory teleworking, restricted private meetings: the Federal Council has adopted a series of new measures against the coronavirus. It also relaxes the conditions for hardship cases.
The epidemiological situation remains extremely tense, underlines the government. The number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths has stagnated at a very high level. And the appearance of new variants of the coronavirus, much more contagious, raises fears of a new upsurge in cases that would be difficult to control.
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RESTAURANTS AND LEISURE PLACES – Extended measures
The contacts must be reduced in order to slow down their propagation. The Federal Council has therefore decided to extend the measures taken in December until the end of February, in particular the closure of restaurants, sports, leisure and cultural centers.
SHOPS – Non-essential stores closed
From Monday, businesses and markets selling non-essential goods will follow suit. The list of current consumer goods is available in a box. The goods can however be ordered in advance and collected on site. However, hourly and Sunday restrictions for shops selling everyday consumer goods, gas stations and kiosks are lifted.
WORK – Teleworking and compulsory masks
Teleworking will be mandatory wherever possible without disproportionate effort. The company will not be liable for any compensation for electricity costs or rent, the situation being only temporary.
Employees who still have to go on site must wear a mask if there are several in the same office. The minimum distance between workstations is no longer sufficient. An employee will only be exempted from this obligation if he has a certificate issued by a doctor or psychotherapist.
People at risk will need to be better protected. The right to telework or to equivalent protection at the workplace or to leave is introduced. If at-risk employees cannot be adequately protected, they will be able to stay at home and receive their full salary.
MEETINGS – Maximum five people
The Federal Council has also decided to restrict private meetings to five people, adults or minors, whether indoors or outdoors.
CASE OF RIGOR – Relaxed conditions
The Confederation relaxes the conditions for companies considered to be hardship. The new facilities should allow all the cantons to provide assistance to most of the bosses affected by the anti-Covid measures from February.
Last December, Parliament approved an envelope of 2.5 billion francs for hardship cases, including 1.9 billion at the expense of the Confederation. Anticipating an extension of the imposed closures, several circles on the left and the right have stepped up in recent days to demand additional help, in particular for restaurants and hotels.
The Federal Council chose Wednesday to opt for unbureaucratic solutions for hardship aid. Closed companies will have to present fewer supporting documents than so-called “ordinary” cases.
Companies will no longer be required to prove the 40% decline in turnover. Those which are closed by the authorities for at least 40 calendar days since November 1, 2020 will now automatically be considered hardship. This applies in particular to restaurants, bars, nightclubs as well as leisure and entertainment establishments.
Companies that have suffered a decline in their turnover between January 2021 and June 2021 in connection with the measures taken by the authorities in the context of the Covid will be able to calculate their losses based on the turnover achieved during the last twelve months and no longer on the turnover for the year 2020. This will allow mountain regions to also benefit from aid in the event of a bad winter season.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO LOST FUNDS – Higher limits
The ceilings applicable to non-refundable contributions have been raised. The cantons will be able to grant all companies contributions amounting to a maximum of 20% of annual turnover (compared to 10% so far) and 750,000 francs per company (compared to 500,000 francs).
This measure aims to take better account of companies with high fixed costs. In addition, it makes it possible to cover a possible extension of the closures after the end of February 2021. The cantons can increase the ceiling in absolute terms to 1.5 million, provided that the owners provide equity of an equivalent amount or that donors abandon their claims.
RESERVE OF 750 MILLION – Distributed to the cantons
The Federal Council has decided that the “Federal Council reserve” of 750 million will also be devoted to the financing of cantonal measures in hardship cases and will therefore supplement the first three aid tranches. The distribution of this amount between the cantons will however be fixed at a later date.
ats / jpr