Switzerland Imposes COVID-19 Restrictions as Infections Surge

The Swiss government Friday ordered all bars, restaurants, cultural venues and sports facilities to close next week because of a surging number of coronavirus cases.At a news conference, Health Minister Alain Berset said the new restrictions, which take effect Tuesday, are necessary because the situation in health facilities ”is not tenable in the long term.”The government will also restrict the number of people who can be inside stores, which must close after 7 p.m. and on Sundays and public holidays.While the closures include restaurants and bars at ski resorts, the federal government is leaving it to Switzerland’s 26 cantons — or states — to decide whether to close skiing facilities.But Berset cautioned they should “think carefully” about their decision “because hospitals are full and putting a lot of people on snow slopes can lead to an increase in accidents and we need to be very careful.”The Swiss health minister’s cautionary stance is a reversal from earlier this month. As other European nations announced plans to close their ski facilities for at least the first several weeks of the season, he said Swiss resorts would be allowed to stay open if they put in place safety measures such as masks, proper hygiene, social distancing and limited capacity for bars and restaurants.At the time, he said he realized the stance could raise regional tensions, but said “We are a sovereign country and can decide ourselves what the facts are on our territory.”The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Switzerland has risen over the past two weeks from 43 cases per 100,000 people on December 3 to 50 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday.  

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