It is not anger, but barely concealed frustration. During its press briefing on March 5, the Federal Council announced a large-scale operation to carry out screening tests, in particular within companies. Objective: to identify asymptotic cases and prevent the spread of the virus. Cost of the operation: one billion francs. The project, which was due to start on March 15, has fallen behind schedule.
“Our companies are waiting”
“Our companies are waiting,” says impatient Kareen Vaisbrot. Member of the management and responsible for the “Employers’ policy” of Swissmem, the association of the Swiss machinery, electrical equipment and metals industry, she affirms that companies are ready to implement the decision of the Federal Council ” but no hardware or protocol has been provided to date. Our companies are ready to contribute to ensuring the health safety of their employees. ”
For Kareen Vaisbrot, the Confederation’s promise was nevertheless well received by Swissmem, whose members number 320,000 employees. Especially since the rapid tests will be paid for by the Confederation. “But we especially welcomed the idea of lifting the obligation to work from home as soon as tests are carried out regularly within the company,” she said. We also support the idea of ending the quarantine period for people who test negative. ” For now, it suffices to have been in contact with a positive case to be confined for ten days.
It is the same echo to the Federation of Romandie Enterprises (FER). The companies are waiting for more concrete information than the Confederation’s declaration of intent alone. For the moment, basic barrier measures are in place for the protection of employees: social distancing, hand hygiene, protective clothing and, as far as possible, teleworking remains the rule.
Nestlé did not wait
“We are at a standstill compared to the Federal Council’s plan, regrets Philippe Miauton at the Vaud Chamber of Commerce and Industry. His will is good, but the implementation is long overdue. ” According to him, companies are ready for rapid and regular tests while waiting for the vaccines to be available.
In supermarkets in Lausanne, covid tests are obviously not on the agenda. The sellers don’t even know about it. “We don’t have any tests available,” says Tristan Cerf, spokesperson for Migros. We have put in place a protection system that works for both our employees and our customers. ”
It’s different at Nestlé in Vevey. The multinational did not wait for the Confederation to set up its protection system which also includes screening tests. “Since last fall, we have offered them free, voluntary and anonymous on our various sites,” replies his spokesperson.
Testing won’t replace vaccines
Other examples: Zurich Assurance and Sika also organize regular screening sessions for their employees. The canton of Vaud has around thirty companies that set up systems before the announcement of Confederation. Several laboratories are profiling themselves on this market financed by the Confederation. For example, Adecco Group Switzerland and Misanto, a Thurgau health company, are teaming up to enable companies to offer the test. Synlab (Switzerland), a subsidiary of the German laboratory, has already been offering its services for several months. She was the one who carried out rapid tests before the Champions League games. From now on, it is at the disposal of the Confederation, which has undertaken to offer the tests.
In reality, the Confederation project was compromised in advance. Especially in terms of the schedule, which was deemed unrealistic. The Conference of Health Directors warned last week that laboratory capacities may not be sufficient. For her, the way out of covid lies in the vaccination campaign: the more people can be vaccinated, the fewer tests are needed.
The canton of Vaud responds to criticism. “This is a project that constitutes a major logistical challenge and not all companies can be integrated from day one,” explains the Department of Health and Social Action. But they will be invited to do so soon. Employers’ organizations and umbrella organizations will be informed of the different possibilities available to employers, and everyone will be able to choose the most suitable solution for their business. “