On March 16, 2020 the Federal Council classified the situation in Switzerland as an ‘extraordinary situation’ according to the Epidemic Act and many restrictions were applied.
Starting May 11th, certain restrictions have been lifted and shops, markets, museums, libraries, sport facilities and restaurants can reopen as long as precautionary measures are adopted and applied. Employees and employers are now required to comply with the rules on hygiene and social distancing. Easing the restrictions is done in multiple phases: phase 1 which started on April 27 concerns healthcare institutions, self-service facilities, personal services and craft and garden centers. Businesses that are allowed to open are, however, required to establish and implement a protection plan (More info). Phase 2 started on May 11th, and concerns primary and lower secondary schools, shops, markets, museums, libraries, certain sport facilities and restaurants. Phase 3 is expected to start on June 8th and will allow gatherings of more than 5 people in particular. The restrictions on travels to and from Germany, France and Austria are expected to be lifted from June 15. However, public and private events of more than 1000 people are expected to remain prohibited until August 31st (For more information see here).
On March 20th, the Federal Council decided to ban gatherings of more than five people. Also, in order to avoid the closure of construction sites and to better protect personnel in general, the Federal Council urges construction companies to respect the recommendations of the Confederation in matters of hygiene and social isolation by adapting their organization. Employers must limit the number of people present on construction sites or in companies, but also prevent gatherings of more than five people in break rooms and canteens. (More info)
The Federal Council has required employers to adapt their employees’ work schedules to allow them to avoid peak hours in public transportation. They should also allow telework as much as possible (See here). People at particular risk must work from home. If this is not possible, they must be put on leave by their employer; the payment of their wages is maintained (See here). An Infoline for companies has also been established as part of a comprehensive package of measures aimed at helping businesses to effectively manage the crisis (See here).
A series of recommendations for businesses has also been published by the Federal Council (More info). The necessary arrangements must be made at the workplace so that personal hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing, are feasible for everyone. If conditions within the company allow, staff members should keep their distance, e.g. by making interior arrangements, using telework, dividing offices (one part of the staff works in the office and the other, in a different place, e.g. telework), etc. Healthy people should not wear hygiene masks (surgical masks). They do not effectively protect against infection by respiratory viruses. This recommendation does not apply to jobs where employees have to wear a mask for other reasons. Employees must be informed of personal protection measures to be applied in the workplace. Those measures must always be adapted to the latest OFSP recommendations. Business continuity management must be activated immediately in professional circles.
Additionally, it has been decided that holders of a training certificate that expired on March 9, 2020 or later may continue to transport dangerous goods in Switzerland and – as soon as this is permitted again – complete the renewal training program and take the renewal training exam. The new ADR training certificate is valid from the expiry date of the previous certificate (More info).
The Government now requires an authorization for exporting certain types of protective equipment such as certain categories of protective glasses and visors, face shields, oral protection equipment, protective clothing, and gloves (See here).
The Federal Council intends to take measures to protect Swiss companies from bankruptcy due to the coronavirus crisis. At its meeting on April 8, 2020, it instructed the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) to submit proposals to it next week. The Federal Council has also decided not to extend the stay of the prosecution or the judicial holidays.
These measures against the spread of Coronavirus will be extended by a week until Sunday, April 26, but should then gradually begin to be eased before the end of the month. That is the decision taken by the Federal Council at its meeting on April 8. The Federal Council will decide on steps to ease the measures at its next meeting on April 16.
Employers should continue to check with relevant authorities for the latest information:
– Government: https://www.admin.ch/gov/de/start.html
– The swiss authorities online: https://www.ch.ch/de/coronavirus/