Swiss order more COVID-19 jabs, tighten pandemic measures

Shoppers are seen in front of a store of luxury goods, group Richemont's flagship brand, Cartier, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Zurich, Switzerland December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Switzerland is ordering more COVID-19 vaccination doses, the government said on Friday, as it tightened pandemic curbs while opting not to embrace -- for now -- an even stricter limited lockdown.

It is ordering 7 million doses each from Moderna (MRNA.O) and from Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech (22UAy.DE) for the second half of next year, it said, bringing to 34 million doses its stockpile for 2022 and ensuring anyone who wants a jab will get it.

After consulting regional authorities, the federal government said it will expand from Monday the requirement for people to show proof of vaccination or recovery from the coronavirus to access many indoor venues like restaurants.

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For places like discos and bars where masks cannot be worn, visitors will also be required to show a negative test result.

The measures, which last until Jan. 24, reimpose a requirement for people to work from home and limit private gatherings to 10 people if anyone aged 16 or above has not been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.

The cabinet warned last week it may have to impose a partial lockdown to break the momentum of rising coronavirus cases that threaten to overwhelm its healthcare system and have prompted alarm in other European countries. read more

A week before the main winter sports season begins, ski resorts had been watching to see how the government would handle the situation. Vaccination is not required now to ride on lifts, where passengers have to wear masks in enclosed cabins.

The government on Friday extended until the end of 2022 financial aid for companies losing revenue from the curbs. It earmarked an extra 1.7 billion Swiss francs ($1.85 billion) for the programme, and said vaccinations would remain free of charge for the population.

Switzerland and tiny neighbour Liechtenstein have reported nearly 1.2 million COVID-19 infections - 13.5% of the population - and more than 11,500 deaths from the disease since the pandemic began last year.

Two out of three residents are fully vaccinated, including three-quarters of the population aged 12 and above, but resistance to the jabs remains common. Officials have not ruled out making vaccination compulsory in an emergency.

More than 80% of intensive care beds are occupied.

($1 = 0.9205 Swiss francs)

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Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

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