June 19, 2020 / 1:32 PM / 17 days ago

Swiss remove most coronavirus restrictions as new cases ebb

ZURICH, June 19 (Reuters) - Switzerland will allow events of up to 1,000 people again from next week as cases of the new coronavirus wane, the government said on Friday, declaring their country better equipped to handle any fresh flare-ups.

“As of Monday, June 22, the measures put in place to tackle the coronavirus will for the most part be lifted. Only the ban on large-scale events will remain in place until the end of August,” the cabinet said.

More than 31,000 people have tested positive for the virus and 1,680 have died of COVID-19 since the first case was reported in late February, according to authorities.

New cases have dwindled to a few dozen a day, allowing Switzerland to reopen schools, shops and borders with fellow members of the Schengen passport-free travel zone as life returns to near-normal. But the economy, like many others, is in a sharp recession.

The government appealed to the public to maintain proper hygiene and physical distancing, but scrapped a recommendation to work from home and cut the safe distance for interaction with strangers to 1.5 metres from two.

It also said it was stepping aside to let individual cantons, or regions, once again take the lead in addressing the pandemic.

“Given the scientific information that has emerged, experience from managing the first wave, and the additional resources now available, the current situation is no longer comparable to the situation at the beginning of the year,” it said. (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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