GDK President Lukas Engelberger expects the cantons to tighten the measures soon. How much leeway do you have? And what should the federal government decide? An overview.
According to Engelberger, the situation corresponds to a typical Swiss logic: “First of all, we cantons are called upon to use our leeway.” This is limited, but you have to try: Corresponding resolutions are to be passed this week in several cantons.
Engelberger’s canton of Basel-Stadt decided on Monday to «specifically strengthen» its mix of measures, as in one Message called. Additional measures are ordered in schools, hospitals and nursing homes, namely a certificate or mask requirement.
The Federal Council, however, is still waiting to take further measures. The cantons can do some things without him, but not other things, as the following overview shows.
Extension of the certificate requirement
You currently have to show the Covid certificate when sitting in restaurants, attending indoor events or fitness centers. Employers can also use it as part of protective measures.
The cantons can extend the use of the Covid certificate, for example to visitors and employees in nursing homes and hospitals.
Reintroduction of the mask requirement
A mask requirement currently applies in publicly accessible indoor spaces, such as public transport or in shops. You don’t have to wear a mask at events that require a certificate – but this could soon be the case again.
Restriction of the number of people
The permitted number of visitors could be restricted again. Restricting the gathering of people both inside and outside is an issue, said the chief canton doctor Rudolf Hauri last week in front of the media: “Nothing is excluded.”
The virus is currently circulating most strongly in the group of 10 to 19 year olds. The decision on protective measures in schools rests with the cantons. Engelberger demands CH Media a strengthening of protective measures in this area.
Dagmar Rösler, President of the umbrella association for teachers in Switzerland, also said at CH Media: “We expect the cantons to take appropriate measures for the situation to protect the health of everyone present.”
This could be a reintroduction of the mask requirement. This is what the canton of Nidwalden, for example, did last week at secondary level, and Graubünden and Basel from 5th grade onwards on Monday. Extensive repetitive pool tests would also be an option here.
Epidemiologist Marcel Salathé from the ETH Lausanne brings another possibility into play on Twitter: the reintroduction of free tests for everyone, albeit for a limited time.
However, this would have to be decided by the Federal Council, which in the past few weeks and months – despite some great pressure – has always spoken out against it.
Another measure that could be taken at federal level is the reintroduction of the home office requirement, as it already applied in spring 2020 and winter 2021. A home office recommendation is currently valid.
“An expansion of the mask requirement indoors or new home office rules are probably appropriate,” says epidemiologist Christian Althaus “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”. Lukas Engelberger also brought this possibility into play last Thursday.
In many countries, those who have been tested are excluded, and only those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered have access to events or restaurants. This is also being discussed in Switzerland – but the cantons could not do anything here. The 3G certificate is specified in federal law. Engelberger also says this very clearly.
Politicians disagree on this, as «Watson» reports. Tanja Stadler from the task force is in favor, but epidemiologists such as Christian Althaus and Marcel Salathé are against. Lukas Engelberger also said on Thursday in front of the mediathat the cantons do not want a system change to 2G.
Austria has been in one for three weeks since Monday general lockdown. This is also an issue in Switzerland, as the Basel canton doctor Thomas Steffen im “Tages-Anzeiger” explains: “If we should not succeed in keeping the new infections in the next few weeks at a level that ensures good health care for everyone, another partial lockdown would probably be the last resort.”
This means that the number of new infections would usually decline quickly, says Steffen. However, it is more important to find the right mix of measures now.
In Austria, vaccination is mandatory from February, although it is unclear how it will be implemented. This measure is also being discussed in Germany.
In Switzerland, the Federal Council can introduce compulsory vaccinations for individual groups of people; cantons could also do this in the event of particular danger. The focus is primarily on exposed groups such as teachers or nursing staff.
SVP-Präsident Marco Chiesa last week called for mandatory vaccination for carers. Epidemiologist Christian Althaus can also imagine this. The airline Swiss has already introduced compulsory vaccinations for its employees.
A broader compulsory vaccination is sometimes required, but is probably not very realistic. According to Virginie Masserey from the Federal Office of Public Health, a mandatory vaccination is currently not being examined.
Is it necessary to tighten the measures?