Bern, 02.02.2022 - The requirements to work from home and to quarantine after contact with an infected person will be lifted from Thursday, 3 February.
The Federal Council took this decision at its meeting on 2 February.
Furthermore, it is proposing to lift a wide range of other measures, to be decided on 16 February, depending on how the situation develops. The consultation lasts until 9 February.
The Federal Council has noted a positive development in hospitals: despite record high infection figures, hospitals have not been overburdened and the occupancy of intensive care units has fallen further. This is probably due to the high level of immunity among the population thanks to vaccination and recovery from COVID-19. In addition, Omicron is causing fewer cases of severe illness than previous virus variants. There are increasing signs that the acute crisis will soon be over and the endemic phase could begin.
The Federal Council therefore considers that the moment has come to once again ease measures designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. It has decided to lift the requirement to work from home and to quarantine with immediate effect and to launch a consultation on wide-ranging steps to ease the remaining measures. However, there is still a need to remain cautious.
Requirement to work from home and for contact quarantine to end The requirement to work from home where possible is to be downgraded to a recommendation. Employers will still be required to take steps to protect their employees from infection in the workplace. Working from home remains an effective measure. The requirement to wear masks in the workplace remains.
For the first time since pandemic began, the requirement to quarantine following contact with someone who is infected is to be lifted entirely. The Federal Council shortened the duration of contact quarantine on 12 January and limited it to people living in the same household. Due to the very high infection figures, the usefulness of contact quarantine has diminished. Following this decision, the provisions on corona-related loss of earnings due to contact quarantine will be removed from the COVID-19 Loss of Earnings Ordinance.
Persons who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 will still be required to isolate. This is to prevent people who are highly infectious from infecting others.
Both steps were presented in an earlier consultation. They will therefore come into effect from Thursday, 3 February. The amended ordinance has the effect of revoking all quarantine orders issued by the cantons from 3 February. The cantons will not be required to expressly revoke quarantine orders themselves.
Consultation: Two options for lifting remaining measures The consultation with the cantons, social partners, parliamentary committees and associations concerned on the lifting of further measures will last until 9 February. The Federal Council has tabled two options for discussion, depending on when the current wave of infections passes its peak. The Federal Council will take a decision at its meeting on 16 February.
Option 1: Lifting all measures in a single step The COVID-19 Special Situation Ordinance could be repealed in a single step on 17 February.
A complete opening of this kind would bring epidemiological risks, as the virus could once again circulate more rapidly. This approach will only be appropriate if the wave of infections has already peaked. Immunisation rates among the population must be sufficiently high and infection rates and hospital admissions must be falling.
It would mean that all protective measures would be lifted:
the certificate requirement for restaurants, events and leisure and cultural venues,
the mask requirement on public transport, in shops and all other public indoor settings,
restrictions on private gatherings,
the permit requirement for large-scale events.
The protection plan for large-scale events would nevertheless remain in place as the renewed introduction of restrictions cannot be excluded. The isolation requirement for persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 would also remain.
Furthermore, additional measures would have to be taken to protect people at high risk. The Federal Council would also consult the cantons on whether the mask requirement should remain on public transport, in shops and healthcare institutions.
Option 2: Lifting the measures in two steps If the epidemiological situation on 16 February is still too uncertain, the Federal Council will proceed gradually. That way the situation can be reassessed after each step. In a first step from 17 February, the Federal Council is proposing the following:
Lifting the certificate requirement for restaurants, events, leisure and cultural venues.
A seating requirement in restaurants would remain.
Lifting restrictions on private gatherings,
Lifting the permit requirement for large-scale outdoor events. The cantons could still introduce a permit requirement, such as for carnival celebrations.
A ‘2G' rule in settings where ‘2G+' rule currently applies (discos, indoor pools, intensive sporting activities or brass bands).
The remaining protective measures would then be lifted in a second step: the mask requirement, ‘2G' rule and the permit requirement for large-scale indoor events. At that point, the COVID-19 Special Situation Ordinance would also be repealed.
Consultation on further steps The Federal Council will also submit further proposals for consultation in addition to those on the lifting of measures. Health measures at the border should no longer apply on entering the country. This means that the requirement for people who are not vaccinated or who have not recovered from COVID-19 to take tests would end, as would the requirement to collect the contact data of travellers entering Switzerland.
In addition, the ‘Swiss' COVID certificates, issued to tourists, for example, or after antibody or antigen rapid tests, would no longer be required. However, certificates recognised by the EU will continue to be issued. These are still required for international travel as long as other countries still have entry restrictions in place. It is also possible that such certificates will still be required in certain countries to visit restaurants or museums.
The Federal Council will also submit proposals on new rules regarding the coverage of costs for therapeutic products in out-patient treatment of COVID-19.