Switzerland sticks to ‘lockdown light’ despite virus variants


The Swiss government on Wednesday decided against further restrictions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, even as faster-spreading variants have entered the country.

Switzerland began a “lockdown light” in mid-December when the government ordered restaurants and sports and recreation centres to be closed for a month and urged people to stay home.

It shied away, however, from a nationwide shutdown of ski resorts or non-essential shops.

“The Federal Council has conducted a detailed analysis of the current epidemiological situation. This remains worrying due to the high level of infection and the appearance of two new virus variants in Switzerland,” the government said in a statement. “However, the Federal Council has come to the conclusion that the measures taken on Dec. 18…are appropriate and do not need to be tightened.”

Switzerland has recorded more than 440,000 cases, representing more than 5% of the population, and nearly 7,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, with experts saying on Tuesday the country’s current death rate was among the highest in the world.

It has documented seven cases of virus variants first discovered in Britain and South Africa, with health ministry officials saying they anticipate more cases of these faster-spreading mutants will emerge.

Measures retroactively ordered on people who had recently arrived from the two countries made headlines when hundreds of Britons fled quarantine in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier.