Swiss government to lift nearly all COVID-19 restrictions

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Switzerland will lift almost all its coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the government said on Wednesday, as fears waned that a spike in infections fueled by the omicron variant would overwhelm the health care system.

The government said only the requirement to wear masks on public transport and at healthcare facilities would remain in force after the changes, which take effect on Thursday.

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Mandatory five-day isolation of people who have tested positive for coronavirus will also remain in effect until the end of March, the government said, to protect particularly vulnerable people.

But shops, restaurants and cultural institutions would be freely accessible, it said, pressing ahead with opening measures it had flagged two weeks ago when it ended quarantine for people who come into contact with an infected person and turned a work-from home order into a recommendation.

“The epidemiological situation continues to develop positively,” the government said in a statement. “Thanks to the high level of immunity in the population, it is unlikely that the healthcare system will be overloaded despite the continued high level of virus circulation.

“Thus,..the conditions are in place for a rapid normalization of social and economic life,” it added.

More than 90 percent of Switzerland’s population of 8.6 million people have gained protection from the virus, having either recovered from COVID-19 or been vaccinated, officials note.

Despite tens of thousands of new infections reported daily, the health care system has held up well and the occupancy of intensive care units has declined.

More than 2.6 million infections have been logged in Switzerland and neighboring principality Liechtenstein since the start of the crisis. Around 12,600 people have died from the disease.

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