Widnau shopping outlet, Rhine Valley, Switzerland.
Alexander Kovacs

Shops, museums, zoos and tennis courts reopen in phase one of Switzerland’s lockdown-lifting

Written by
Time Out editors
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Anyone that’s been missing zipping between clothes rails or spotting giraffes will be pleased by the latest easing of Switzerland’s lockdown restrictions, in what marks a big step for the gradual reopening of society.

From March 1, all shops, outdoors sports facilities (including tennis courts and football grounds), outdoor leisure facilities (including zoos, botanical gardens and ice skating rinks), museums, libraries and reading rooms will be allowed to reopen. Some indoor hotel facilities, such as spas, can reopen for hotels guests only.

Additionally, outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people are permitted and there’s now a partial lifting of restrictions on sporting and cultural events for people under 20, meaning that some sporting competitions for younger age groups can resume, albeit without spectators. Youth choirs will also be allowed to practice once again, though presumably with distancing in place.

Before you rush out to catch up on all those missed shopping hours, be aware that there are strict safety measures in place to accompany reopenings. Smaller shops (with a floor area of up to 40 square metres) are limited to three customers at a time, while larger stores are also subject to stringent customer limits depending on their size.

This being Switzerland, skiing – the cause of much heated debate over the course of the pandemic – will be on many people’s minds as restrictions begin to ease. The situation now is effectively that ski area reopenings will be left to individual cantons to decide upon, based on how safe the area can be made if it reopens. Here’s the requirement as set out on the Federal Office of Public Health website: “The criteria for a canton to grant authorisation include, in particular, the availability of the necessary capacity in healthcare facilities and an epidemiological situation that permits the opening of the ski areas.”

Many restrictions are still in place, of course. Private indoor gatherings are limited to five people and there’s still a ban on events and a requirement to work from home wherever possible, as well as a continued compulsory requirement to wear face masks indoors in most situations outside of the home. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs all remain closed, although it’s thought that these venues will be allowed to reopen in some form on March 22, which the Swiss Government has marked out as the date for the next stage of easing measures, “providing the epidemiological situation permits”.

And throughout all this, the official guidance stresses that rules on hygiene and social distancing still need to be followed closely to ensure that everyone stays safe as things begin to creep back towards normality, if we can remember what that looks like.

For more information and the latest guidance, check the website of the Federal Office of Public Health.

Amongst all the talk of venue reopenings, let’s not forget about the great outdoors. Here are five beautiful spots where you can soak up Switzerland’s natural beauty

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