The Federal Council is under pressure. He is sitting this Wednesday. The figures for new infections and the positivity rate are falling and traditional lobbies are no longer the only ones to demand a deconfinement roadmap to give the population prospects. In the streets, in the back rooms of bistros, or even in the forests, dozens or even hundreds of people are multiplying acts of disobedience by defying the measures taken on January 13. To answer this, we can expect a pointillism-based deconfinement operation: a touch here, a touch there, so as to avoid the trap of a third wave of Covid-19 formed by the new variants. . The scientific task force repeated the calls for caution against them on Tuesday. The Federal Council could also double aid in hardship cases, which would increase from 5 to 10 billion francs, while settling the terms of this support by the cantons, which will be consulted in an accelerated procedure. The government will decide definitively in a week.
Reopening of non-essential stores
The conditional is essential. But this could be the main news announced by the Federal Council on Wednesday in the consultation procedure that it is launching with the cantons. Decided on January 13, the closure of non-essential food stores has been widely criticized. On the one hand, because it concealed an element of arbitrariness: why leave the flower shops open, but not the bookstores? And, on the other hand, because it has so far been impossible to establish that these stores are places of contamination. “The umbrella association Swiss Retail Federation therefore severely criticized this measure with very heavy consequences for the industry: a loss of 3.2 billion francs per month nationally. Of course, the affected stores attempted to take advantage of the “click and collect” window authorized by the Federal Council, ie ordering a product online followed by its receipt on site. “This is a good measure, but often difficult to apply, because a small business makes the difference in the advice given to customers in the store”, notes Florian Németi, president of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Latin Switzerland.
A relaxation on meetings
The limit of five people for public and private gatherings could be relaxed slightly, but with caution: sessions or gatherings could be tolerated up to ten people, but hardly beyond. Not really decisive if the protection plans are respected, this restriction will nevertheless constitute a strong signal on the direction that the Federal Council wants to take. The umbrella associations Economiesuisse and the Swiss Employers’ Union (UPS) have proposed “to relax or even remove this limit”. “We need to go back from the all-powerful health status to economic freedom and individual responsibility,” Marco Taddei told UPS. The political parties are tearing each other apart: while the SVP has filed a petition with 230,000 signatures to demand an almost total lifting of confinement – “We claim the right to live and work”, exclaims its president Marco Chiesa – the leader of the socialist group Roger Nordmann calls for more moderation. “The nightmare would be for a third wave to occur before those at risk have all been vaccinated. You have to deconfin step by step, without rushing. ”
Telework: not a priority
The obligation of teleworking could be maintained, even if the employers’ associations strongly fought this measure a month ago. These advocate returning to a recommendation as in March 2020. Strange paradox: even if there has been no investigation on this subject, the home office was probably better respected when it was recommended, during the first wave, than during the rebound of the pandemic when it became mandatory. This is what Blaise Matthey, the director general of the Federation of Romandian Enterprises (FER), suggests. “But the situation was different, as companies were looking for masks and plexiglass to protect their employees. So they told them to work at home. During the second wave, companies switched to telework by rotation. The unions are opposed to the lifting of compulsory teleworking. But according to Unia vice-president Aldo Ferrari, this is not the most important. “It is essential that workers maintain confidence in maintaining their jobs and their purchasing power.” Unia is therefore demanding an extension of HRT to 24 months and 100% compensation up to a net salary of 5,000 francs.
Culture: the pain of not being essential
There is great hope of welcoming the public again among the museums, theaters and cinemas, expected to benefit from a possible reopening in the medium term. Developed on the banks of the Rhine, the “Basel model” gives hope to the entire industry. His postulate? Forget about the people limits and reopen so that each individual has four square meters or ventilation renews 40 cubic meters of air per hour per spectator.
“We have visiting circuits and we can always tighten up the conditions in place,” emphasizes Luc Debraine, director of the Vevey Photography Museum. It is certainly not the museums that will jeopardize the health situation. ” He recalls that in Spain and Italy, two countries very affected by the virus, museums are reopening. His is ready, his new exhibition mounted. All that is missing is eyes to contemplate it.
President of the Association des cinémas romands, Xavier Pattaroni would need a little more preparation: “A good month, to do things well. And at least 50% of the room’s capacity to be profitable. ” The main thing, for him, is however to be able to reopen so as not to close again. A hope shared by theaters: “We must now work with the pandemic,” said Thierry Luisier, secretary general of the Federation of French-speaking performing arts. There will be other variants, other rebounds. But we have integrated the actions and we have to take another step. Relive, even if there are constraints. ”
Catering: keep your head above water
The gastronomy sector is exhausted and demands prospects. Because the abyss is approaching: the real estate platform Immoscout24 declared on Monday that the announcements concerning catering premises had increased by 70% compared to the previous year. “We have just sent a letter to the Federal Council,” reveals André Roduit, PDC deputy from Valais and president of Gastrovalais. Now we want to know what lies ahead. ” When to reopen, but above all how. Economic circles are pushing for the terraces to benefit from an authorization. A good idea? “I’m mixed,” said the Valaisan. How do those who don’t have one? Does that allow you to make enough numbers? And does the aid follow if we can just open it outside? ” The food industry has little hope of returning in March, he said. “But if we have to stay closed for another month to ensure the blow, let’s do it. All we want is clarity. To be able to work properly. ” At the mention of illegal bars, he nods. “If the epidemic starts again, it will be our fault again. I ask everyone to hold the line. We will reopen when we can reopen. “
Sport: the misfortune of contactless activities
If the rules in place concerning football, rugby and panty wrestling seem to follow a certain logic, for tennis players, the pill is difficult to swallow. Because, since the end of 2020, hitting a ball 25 meters from your opponent under ten meters from the ceiling is prohibited.
“Currently only juniors under 16 can still play, accompanied by a coach,” explains Christiane Jolissaint, vice-president of Swiss Tennis. Celebrating his birthday can suddenly deprive a young person of access to the court … We would obviously like to reopen to everyone, our sport does not pose any problems in terms of security measures on the ground. But if that is not possible, we would at least like to restart the competition for the Under 18s. They haven’t played a single match for months. ” Seniors are also very affected, she regrets. “In the morning, there are a lot of retirees at the club. It is important to them. To maintain a physical level, but also for the social bond. ” Different sport, similar expectations: badminton. “Our sport is also done at a distance,” emphasizes Swiss Badminton. We would like to be able to start training again. In addition, our sport is played a lot by students, who are already suffering enough like that. ”
As in tennis, only those under 16 are currently twirling their shuttlecocks, the same for table tennis. Faced with incomprehensible measures, racquet athletes are losing patience and petitions for a reopening are increasing. Especially since if the clubs have so far benefited from a large financial support, Swiss Tennis indicates that some small structures are starting to find themselves in difficulty.