The second wave of COVID-19 in Switzerland

Switzerland does not implement a lockdown like most of its neighbor countries. Today the WHO warns Europe to not go too fast into a lockdown, probably a message for Germany with still very few cases.

The country is in the so called “special situation” which means our national government cannot decide themselves, they must involve all 26 cantons and come to a common agreement. This slows down the process and it seems most news coverage is not aware of that legal fact.

  • The national measurements are minimum standards. The most important ones are:

Private parties are only allowed with max 10 people.

In restaurant only 4 people per table are allowed

Masks at work must be worn outside and inside

Masks in inner cities, public places including bus, tram, and train stations must be worn

Discos, bars & theaters are closed, although with max 50 people one could still run the business

Restaurants close at 11pm but no curfew during the night

Universities and higher education function only via video

Sports can only be done in groups of 15 and indoor always with masks

Professional sport with max 15 spectators

There is a lot of subsidy for closed institution

  • Most cantons have stronger local measurements, but all try to avoid a lockdown. Goal is always to minimize social contacts, no parties, no public events with more than 50 people. But the economic life should be impacted as little as possible

But schools, shops stay all open. Everybody should work, there is a weak recommendation for home office

  • Economic impact: Based on mobility data people are still commuting to work and there is so far no significant slowdown. But culture events and restaurant are suffering.

The goal is to keep the economy going but to hinder almost all private activities in groups bigger than 10 (or 15 for amateur sport)

  • Will it be enough? According to our science task force only if people are really following these recommendations, which most of them cannot be controlled as they target the leisure time of the population. This is a special way like during the first wave. But this time Switzerland has the highest ratio of new cases per 100’000 habitants in Europe (please see charts at the end). Further steps cannot be ruled out.
  • Cities are having only a slightly higher hit ratio than the countryside.
  • French speaking part is hit harder with the lead of Wallis and since today Jura with a partial lockdown. The hypothesis is that the ‘southern’ way of life brings more people closer together. For instance, even during summer, a rural canton Vaud was always having the highest ratio of new infections and like France or Spain one had to wear mask in all public places, but the cases never came down.
  • Geneva as a city is hit hard and their health system is already at the edge to break down. But other Cities, Zurich, Basel are not harder hit than their rural surroundings. They even have the highest capacity of unused emergency beds in these cities.


We expect that the economic impact will be less than during the first wave. There more than 70% off all work was still done although we had a complete lockdown. Different to then, the government wants that a minimum of social life is still possible, because during the 1st wave we were forced to stay at home and not to meet besides for work. The measurements are economic friendly and if followed are hard in the private area. If in two weeks we do not see a slowdown of new cases more measurements must be expected. I am skeptical that this measurements in the private area are really followed because the state cannot control them and like in other countries we are tiered of the virus.

Average infected per 1 million inhabitants, Switzerland is with 2.84 persons is even higher than Belgium 2.56

  • On the Swiss TV news app: Out of 20’000 users more than 55% think the measurements will not be sufficient


Fig 2: absolute number of new infected per 1 million inhabitants (7 day rolling)


Published: 30/10/20 by Blackfort CIO Dr. Andreas Bickel


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