The Swiss Government has issued a ban on public and private events involving more than 1,000 people to help tackle the spread of coronavirus.
The ban comes into effect immediately and will last until at least March 15, the Federal Council announced in a statement on its website.
Events already affected include the Geneva International Motor Show (one of the biggest dates in the calendar for the automotive industry), the Basel Carnival and the Engadin Skimarathon (the largest cross-country skiing event in Switzerland) all of which have been cancelled.
The move comes as Switzerland’s first cases of the virus were confirmed earlier this week, with the ban aiming to “prevent or delay the spread of the disease in Switzerland, thus reducing its momentum,” the Council said. As of Friday morning (February 28), 15 cases of the virus had been reported in Switzerland.
The statement also says the Council is “responding to the latest developments in the coronavirus epidemic and has categorised the situation in Switzerland as ‘special’ in terms of the Epidemics Act.” The circumstances effectively gives the Federal Council powers to step in and issue orders which would normally be dealt with by the cantons, the statement explains.
For events where fewer than 1,000 people are expected, the Council says that organisers “must carry out a risk assessment in conjunction with the competent cantonal authorities to decide whether or not the event can be held.”
Watch this space for more news and updates as they appear.