Tuesday , September 21 2021

German-speaking cantons want to step up corona measures

Federal Adviser Allen Berset’s ultimatum has effect. Various cantons are now ready to take further measures to prevent the virus.

Federal President Simonetta Somaruga and Health Minister Alain Berset took German-speaking cantons to prayer on Saturday.

Federal President Simonetta Somaruga and Health Minister Alain Berset took German-speaking cantons to prayer on Saturday.

Arnd Wigman / Keystone

In German-speaking cantons, the number of cases is stagnating at a high level – in many places even rising again. The canton of Basel-Landschaft had 34% more cases on Saturday than a week ago, in the canton of Basel-Stadt the numbers increased by 54%. The cantons of Bern, Zug, Schwyz and Graubunden also reported an increase on Saturday. The virus threatens to spiral out of control with Sunday sales and upcoming family celebrations just before Christmas.

The Federal Council holds crisis talks with the cantons

On Saturday, Federal President Simonetta Somaruga and Health Minister Alain Berset issued a video call urging governments in six cantons to step up their measures to contain the coronavirus. The two federal councilors spoke with government officials from the cantons of Argau, Basel-Landschaft, St. Gallen, Solothurn, Ticino and Thurgau, according to the NZZ am Sonntag.

The power play of the federal councils obviously had an effect. According to Lucas Engelberger, president of the Conference of Directors of Health, several German-speaking cantons want to consider further measures in the next few days. “The agreements are already underway. “I guess we will see further measures next week,” the Basel CVP government council told Swiss radio station SRF.

The St. Gallen government wants to discuss possible measures Tuesday and then inform the public about them on Wednesday. The canton of Thurgau also intends to take further action earlier this week, according to the NZZ am Sonntag.

Schaffhausen Canton tightened measures last week. All gyms, indoor swimming pools, fitness centers and ice sports facilities, as well as movie theaters and museums must be closed there. Events with more than 15 people are banned from Sunday. Private meetings can be attended by up to 10 people from at most two households. It can be assumed that the standard cantons of eastern Switzerland will be guided by this package when they tighten the screw next week.

Federal Councilor Berset issued an ultimatum to the cantons on Friday. Unless tougher measures are taken, the state government will intervene on its own, the health minister said. As early as Tuesday, Berset wants to review the interim procedure and make an assessment of whether individual cantons are doing enough.

Criticism of inactivity by the canton of Zurich

The canton of Zurich was not taken into prayer by the Federal Councilors Somaruga and Berset. In the country’s most populous canton, the number of coronary infections is also rising. The Zurich CD Council of States, Ruedy Nosser, has criticized the inaction of its own cantonal government. “The number of coron cases must now be reduced in German-speaking Switzerland, and especially in Zurich,” he told the weekly. Just keep going, don’t go any further. Nosser calls on the Zurich government council to give in to Berset’s pressure and act.

The Zurich cantonal government is expected to decide what to do on Wednesday – and to include the Federal Council announcements in the ongoing assessment of the situation.

Vaccinations begin in early January

Preparations for Covid-19 vaccinations are now in full swing at the federal and cantonal levels. “In the first few days of the new year, 70,000 vaccinations a day should start,” said Virginia Masseri, head of infection control at the Federal Bureau of Public Health (BAG), in an interview with NZZ am Sonntag. The vaccination campaign should last six months and will therefore end during the summer. BAG would like to vaccinate 6 million people – “or anyone who wants to”, says Maseri.

Each canton organizes the distribution of the vaccine for itself. However, by the start of January, not all cantons will be ready. In some cantons it is still unclear where vaccination should be given, in others there is still a shortage of qualified personnel. In the first phase, vaccinations are planned to be concentrated in large centers. These can be gyms, civil defense systems, hospitals or testing centers.

However, the vaccine has not yet been approved by Swissmedic. However, the oversight body is constantly exchanging information with colleagues in the EU approval body, Masseri said. That is why there is no reason why the exam in Switzerland “should last much longer” than in the EU.

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