Swiss to further ease coronavirus measures, ban big groups through August

FILE PHOTO: Clients push their trolleys past others while queueing in front of a Bauhaus do-it-yourself store on the opening day after the Swiss government eased the lockdown during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Schlieren, Switzerland April 27, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss government is pressing ahead with re-opening measures including for sporting events, shops, restaurants and museums, it said on Wednesday, even as it bans events with more than 1,000 people through August to curb spread of the coronavirus.

Border restrictions will also begin being eased from May 11 to allow families to reunite, officials said, while a “careful reopening” of restaurants will be permitted under strict conditions aimed at ensuring health and safety for guests and employees.

Primary and secondary schools will be allowed to resume classes from May 11. Moreover, professional sports teams can resume play on June 8, although without spectators in attendance.

Bern will decide on events of less than 1,000 people on May 27, the government said. At this stage, gatherings are limited to five people.

After an initial wave of easing starting this week that included hair salons and some other small businesses, the government said a further slowing of new coronavirus infections will allow the country to take the next steps.

Since Tuesday the country recorded 143 new infections, bringing the total to 29,407, with 1,408 deaths.

“We have to remain very flexible and very modest,” Health Minister Alain Berset told a news conference in Bern. “We’re doing everything step by step so that we can achieve a good easing and stable situation.”

The government said that it was far too early to consider allowing events with more than 1,000 people on grounds the infection risk was too high and it would be virtually impossible to trace other attendees who might have had contact with newly diagnosed people in anonymous crowds.

The government unveiled a $1.95 billion aid package for virus-hit aviation sector.

Editing by Michael Shields