ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss youth will be able to sing again from March 1, the government on Wednesday, when it announced the first stage of its careful easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
The cabinet, aware of the impact of lockdown and social distancing on children’s psychological health, said it was allowing sports and cultural activities for under 20s to continue, raising the age limit from 16.
Choirs of children and youth will be able to practice and organize events, even without an audience.
Switzerland said in December it was banning singing to check the spread of the coronavirus.
The government confirmed initial plans to reopen shops, museums and libraries, and allow outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people.
“We believe that the opening is not only reasonable but desirable and important,” Health Minister Alain Berset told a news conference in Bern.
As neighboring countries take a tougher line, the cabinet has tried to walk the political strings between health experts supporting tougher restrictions and struggling businesses calling for an economic reopening as the number of infections falls.
“The frustration is understandable. We all want to live normal lives as quickly as possible, “said President Guy Parmelin, but added that the government also needed to keep the virus situation under control.
Health authorities have reported here more than 552,000 cases and more than 9,200 deaths in Switzerland and neighboring Liechtenstein since the pandemic broke out in February 2020.
Schools and many ski lifts are open, but restaurants and cultural establishments remain closed.
The next reopening stage is planned for March 22 if the pandemic path allows, the government said. It will decide what steps to take next on March 19.
“When (the situation) improves, things can go really fast,” said Berset.
The government had said last week it would begin loosening up if the cantons agreed.
Edited by Michael Shields