- Özgür Töre
The Swiss government announced Wednesday that the last remaining public health measures to tackle COVID-19 will be lifted from Friday, including the compulsory wearing of masks on public transport.
“The assessment of the situation is positive. Infections are falling in all age categories. The situation in intensive care is stable; an overload of hospital capacities seems unlikely,” Switzerland’s Interior Minister Alain Berset told journalists in Bern.
“Those who would still like to wear a mask must be able to do so. You must have tolerance and respect.”
The government had removed many restrictions on Feb. 16, but the number of vaccinated people has hardly budged, and cases have not dramatically plummeted.
On Wednesday, 16,462 new cases of the coronavirus were reported in Switzerland, down by 37% over the past week.
Some 165 people were admitted to hospitals and COVID-19 patients occupied 17.4% of intensive care beds, with eight patients reported to have died.
Vaccination rates in the country have hardly budged since July, with only 70.13% of the population of some 8.7 million having received one jab and 69.12% fully vaccinated.
“We can’t say that the crisis is over, but we can certainly say that the acute phase of the crisis is over,” said Berset.
He said health authorities had bought enough vaccines to cover the Swiss population in 2022 and 2023 if needed.
Since the start of the pandemic, 3.48 million people – or 41% of the population – have been found to be COVID-19 positive, while around 13,000 people have died.