Switzerland plans to ease restrictions now in place to combat the new coronavirus starting at the end of April, the government said on Wednesday, adding the economic damage from the epidemic could be the worst on record.
“The government knows that our people, our families, companies, employees and self-employed people need a vision for the future, and they need it quickly,” President Simonetta Sommaruga told a news briefing.
She said the uncertainty was taking its toll on people, locked down at home for nearly three weeks as schools and businesses were shuttered, town squares deserted and trains and roads emptied of people.
The government said it would extend existing anti-coronavirus restrictions for another week to April 26, before looking at a gradual loosening of measures that now include border controls, restaurant closures and bans on gatherings of more than five people.
Sommaruga said the population had largely followed the restrictions.
Switzerland could suffer its worst economic downturn on record, the government said, with the coronavirus epidemic shrinking the economy by as much as 10.4% this year.
The scenario, far worse than the government’s previous forecast of a 1.5% contraction, would occur if there was a prolonged shutdown in Switzerland and as well as abroad, triggering bankruptcies and job cuts across a nation dependent on world trade.