People walk through a busy building in Zurich.
Photo: Claudio Schwarz/@purzlbaum

Restaurants, bars, spas and more to reopen on May 31 in latest round of lockdown easing

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Time Out editors
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The Swiss Government has allowed significant easing of lockdown restrictions from Monday May 31, including the reopening of restaurants and bars, and increased numbers at private and public events.

The announcement came as something of a surprise, as measures were eased more than expected, which was accredited to confirmed cases of Covid-19 continuing to fall in Switzerland.

From May 31, restaurants and bars can reopen indoors, seating four people per table inside and six outdoors, but still with social distancing or screens in place. Night-owls will be pleased to hear that venues no longer have to shut between 11pm and 6am.

Those who’ve been missing getting pampered will appreciate the reopening of spas and thermal baths, where you’ll get 15 square metres to yourself, in theory, to keep in-line with social distancing.

Sick of working at home? From Monday wfh will be a recommendation rather than a requirement, although organisations must carry out weekly testing to comply with this.

Public events will get a little more public, as indoor audiences can be increased from 50 to 100, and outdoor audiences from 100 to 300. And private gatherings will get a little less private, with limits increased from ten to 30 people indoors and 15 to 50 outside. Park life also gets an upgrade, with no limits on people gathering in public spaces.

Sports fans, start limbering up: from Monday, 50 people can play sport together instead of 15, making a full football match a lot easier, especially as spectators are also allowed. Similarly, 50 people is also the new limit for “cultural activities, and even better news for brass bands, whose space requirement between members has been reduced from 25 to 10 square metres.

For those seeking something bigger, the plans for larger-scale events have been accelerated. Pilot events will begin taking place from June 1, with 600 people indoors and 1,000 people outdoors. The aim is for large events to begin again properly on July 1, with a maximum capacity of 3,000 indoors and 5,000 at outside events with seating, or 3,000 at outdoor events with “standing room”, such as festivals. Then from August 20, the maximum number for events shoots up to a whopping 10,000, which seems bizarre to even imagine right now after so many event-less months.

The government announcement also states that admission to these large-scale events will only be open to people who’ve been fully vaccinated, have “recovered from Covid” or who can provide proof of a negative Covid test result.

Another significant step is that people who have been fully vaccinated (with a vaccine approved by Switzerland or the European Medicines Agency) or have recovered from Covid can avoid travel quarantine (and the requirement to take a test) when arriving in Switzerland for six months. However, those exemptions don’t apply if you’re arriving from countries with “virus variants of concern.”

The government’s aim is now to have just one final round of restriction-easings and reopenings before summer, due to the latest set of easings being wider than first planned. Those next steps are planned for consultation on June 11, ahead of a decision about what to implement on June 23 or 30, with things taking effect on July 1.

And although the new restriction-easing marks a positive step forward, the government is keen to let people know that risks still exist and to act accordingly, noting in the announcement, “so as not to jeopardise the ongoing vaccination campaign, caution is still the order of the day.”

Read the full announcement on the Federal Council’s website.

Overwhelmed by the thought of what to do once things open up? Check our pick of the best things to do in Switzerland this spring, featuring plenty of activities for both indoors and the great outdoors, depending on what mood you’re in.

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