Coronavirus: Federal Council introduces 7pm closing time and closures on Sundays and public holidays

Bern, 11.12.2020 - At its meeting on 11 December, the Federal Council tightened its measures to counter the spread of the coronavirus. The aim is to reduce the level of contact between people and to prevent people from gathering together. Restaurants and bars, shops and markets, museums and libraries, and sports and leisure facilities will be required to close at 7pm from tomorrow, Saturday, 12 December. With the exception of restaurants and bars they must also remain closed on Sundays and public holidays. Cantons with a more favourable epidemiological situation may extend the closing time until 11pm. Events are banned, with certain exceptions, while sports and cultural activities are still permitted in groups of up to five people.

The number of cases of infection with coronavirus remains very high and in many cantons it is starting to rise again. Hospitals are nearing capacity and medical staff are under enormous pressure. The situation is of the utmost concern, not least because of the high risk of a further and more rapid rise in the number of cases in the coming days. People are spending more time indoors because of the cold weather and contacts among family and friends are set to increase over the festive season.

After consulting the cantons, the Federal Council has decided to take action to reduce the number of contacts and prevent gatherings of people. The measures take effect from tomorrow, Saturday 12 December, and will remain in place until 22 January 2021.

Closing time from 7pm and on Sundays and public holidays
Restaurants and bars, shops and markets, museums and libraries, and sports and leisure facilities will all have to close between 7pm and 6am. Shops, markets, museums, libraries and sports and leisure facilities will also have to remain closed on Sundays and national public holidays. Restaurants and bars, however, may open on Sundays and public holidays. On 24 December and New Year's Eve, the closing time will be 1am. Takeaways and delivery services can remain open until 11pm.

Exceptions for cantons with an improved epidemiological situation
The cantons that are in a more favourable epidemiological situation will be allowed to extend the closing time up to 11pm. However, this will be dependent on the R-number remaining less than 1.0 for at least seven days and the weekly incidence remaining below the Swiss average for at least seven days. In addition, sufficient contact-tracing and healthcare capacities must be available in the canton concerned. Cantons that wish to extend opening hours must agree the move with neighbouring cantons.

Ban on events
Public events will be banned. Exceptions are made for religious services (for up to 50 people), funerals attended by family and close friends, parliamentary assemblies and political demonstrations.

Private gatherings: ‘rule of 10' continues to apply
The Federal Council has decided against further restrictions on private gatherings. The current rule of no more than ten persons will continue to apply. Children count towards this number. In addition, the Federal Council strongly recommends that private gatherings be limited to two households. This rule is clear and means that small-scale Christmas celebrations are possible.

Sport and culture: groups of up to five permitted
Amateur sports activities are only allowed in groups of up to five persons. Contact sports remain banned. Amateur cultural activities are also restricted to groups of up to five persons.

Sports and cultural activities (with the exception of competitions) involving children up to the age of 16 are still permitted. Also permitted are training and competitions for members of a national squad, as are training sessions and matches for ice hockey and football teams in the professional leagues, but without any spectators. Rehearsals and performances by professional artists or ensembles remain permitted.

Opinions of the cantons differ considerably
In the consultations, the cantons essentially agreed with the assessment of the epidemiological situation. A majority welcomes more uniformity in the measures being applied. Many are also calling for the federal government to act directly to impose effective measures to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic. However, a large majority of the cantons does not agree with the action the Federal Council is taking.

The Federal Council will discuss whether to proceed with even further-reaching restrictions at its meeting on 18 December.

Address for enquiries

Federal Office of Public Health,
Coronavirus Infoline +41 58 463 00 00
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The Federal Council

General Secretariat FDHA

Federal Office of Public Health