The Federal Council decided on 20 March to ban gatherings of more than five people under threat of fines. It also issued new directives for the construction industry and decided to allocate a further CHF 32 billion to support the economy.
T he Federal Council has already urged the population to stay at home. In particular people who are ill or over 65 years of age. Only those who have to go to work or to the doctor, or who have to buy food or help someone, should go outside. This is to protect particularly vulnerable persons and to prevent the intensive care units in hospitals from overloading.
Threat of fines
As these measures and the keeping of distance have not yet been sufficiently implemented, the Federal Council decided on 20 March to ban gatherings of more than five people in public places, namely in public squares, on footpaths and in parks. At gatherings of less than five people, a minimum distance of two metres must be maintained. The police may impose a fine for non-compliance. This directive came into force last Friday at midnight.
This assembly ban is being controlled by the police, Jolanda Egger, media spokeswoman for the Bern cantonal police, confirmed on request. The primary aim is not to impose fines on offenders, she explains: “The main aim is to raise public awareness, not to hand out fines.” Nevertheless, police officers have the option of imposing a fine of CHF 100 on persons who fail to comply. To this end, more police officers are deployed on the streets.
Cantons allowed to close businesses
In order to prevent the closure of construction sites and to better protect employees, the Federal Council obliges employers in the construction sector and industry to comply with the Federal Council’s recommendations on hygiene and spacing. They are also required to limit the number of people present and to adapt the organisation. Employers are obliged to prevent gatherings of more than five people in break rooms and canteens. The cantons may close down individual businesses in the event of non-compliance.
Over 40 billion for the economy
The Federal Council also approved a comprehensive package of measures totalling CHF 32 billion to cushion the economic consequences of the spread of the coronavirus. Together with the measures already approved on 13 March, this adds up to CHF 40 billion available for the Swiss economy. Parliament will now be involved, and the Finance Delegation of the Federal Assembly (FinDel) is due to decide on the package this week. The aim of the measures, which are aimed at various target groups, is to maintain employment, safeguard wages and support the self-employed.
Measures have also been taken in the cultural and sports sectors to prevent bankruptcies and cushion the drastic financial consequences. The new measures are intended to avoid hardship cases as far as possible and “to provide unbureaucratic, targeted and rapid support to the persons and sectors concerned”.
BASED ON AVS/KEREM S. MAURER