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Coronavirus: a practical summary of the official information and its consequences

March 20, 2020

Amidst this uncertain climate of stress and concern which is surrounding us, we realize that the non-French speaking population of Switzerland may not be fully aware of the government decisions that have been made.

We have translated for your ready reference the Ordinance COVID-19 adopted by the Federal government on 13rd March 2020 (>bag>2019-nCoV>COVID-19-Ordonnance-2) here Ordinance COVID as well as the Q&A published by the Federation of French speaking Swiss companies (FER) ( here FAQ FER. Please note that these are not our publications but simply informal English translations of official information.


To summarize, it is important for you to know the following:


Inbound travel restrictions

The Swiss borders will only let people enter Switzerland if they fulfil one of the following conditions:

The entry into Switzerland will only be allowed if the person fulfils one of the following conditions:

  1. is of Swiss nationality;
  2. has a travel document and a residence permit, in particular a Swiss residence permit, a frontier worker’s permit, a visa issued by Switzerland or a residence permit insurance;
  3.   has a professional reason for entering Switzerland and possess a registration certificate;
  4.   is engaged in the transport of goods for commercial purposes and have a delivery note;
  5.   is in transit in Switzerland with the intention of going directly to another country;
  6.    is in a situation of absolute necessity.

The last condition depends on the discretion of the Swiss federal immigration authorities. If you would like to enter Switzerland based on this last condition, we recommend you contact a lawyer to assess your chances before trying to enter – to avoid any inconveniences.

Persons coming from a region at risk will not be allowed to enter Switzerland. The list of countries that are considered by Swiss authorities as “regions at risk” is annexed to the above-mentioned Ordinance and will be updated regularly.

 Educational institutions

Schools, universities and extra-curricular activities are all closed with two exceptions:

  1. Examinations that have already been scheduled may take place if the required protective measures are applied.
  2. Childcare possibilities are provided for parents who have no other alternative, however the caretakers cannot be persons who are considered as vulnerable to the virus.

Vulnerable persons are defined as those who are aged 65 and over, and persons suffering from the following conditions in particular: high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, immune deficiency due to disease or therapy, cancer.

Public recreation

Restaurants, tearooms, nightclubs, fitness centres, museums and zoological parks and centers, theatres, concert halls etc. must remain closed from 16th March 2020.

The Ordinance provides exceptions for the following:

The only operational businesses will be those active in the following:

  1.           Food shops and other shops (e.g. kiosks, petrol station shops) provided they sell foodstuffs or everyday consumer goods;
  2.           Take-away food services, company canteens, meal delivery services and catering services for hotel guests;
  3.           Pharmacies, drugstores and shops selling medical aids (e.g. glasses, hearing aids);
  4.           Post offices and agencies;
  5.           Sales outlets of telecommunication operators;
  6.            Banks;
  7.           Service stations;
  8.           Railway stations and other public transport infrastructure;
  9.            Repair shops for means of transport;
  10.            Public administrations;
  11.           Social services (e.g. counselling centres);
  12.            Burials within the restricted family circle;
  13.           Health care institutions such as hospitals, clinics and doctors’ surgeries as well as surgeries and institutions run by health care                 professionals within the meaning of federal and cantonal law;
  14.           Hotels with strict requirements spelled out in the Ordinance.

The Ordinance provides that the cantonal authorities can request further exceptions to the clause above in certain conditions.

For small businesses that are forced to close, they can apply for “technical unemployment” for their employees with the unemployment authorities.

Duty of Employers under the Ordinance

Employees can make a declaration of their vulnerability to their employers. If the employer requests it, a medical certificate must be provided. The Employer must allow the employee to work from home. If this is not possible, then sick leave needs to be granted to the vulnerable employee.


Intentional violations of the provisions of the ordinance, which can be verified spontaneously by the police, can be subject to important fines and even a sentence of imprisonment of upto 3 years.

The Ordinance is effective until 19th April 2020 but can be repealed before or extended upto a maximum of 6 month from the 16th March 2020, depending on the situation.

At Page & Partners, we remain available to assist you through WhatsApp video calls and accept payments of your fees by Twint.

Employment directives of the cantonal authorities

In principle, subject to the specific facts of each case:

  • If the employee is quarantined and can work from home, he/she is entitled to his/her salary.
  • If the employee is ill or has to stay home to take care of his/her kids, he/she is entitled to their salary under certain limits fixed in the law.
  • If the employer is forced to close his business and send his/her employees home, salaries are still due but the employer can apply for state benefits for forced reduced hours allowances TO cover the salaries of his employees (“chômage technique”). However, the reduced hour allowance cannot be requested for decision making executive employees.

For more specific questions, please see the Q&A of the FER ( Free translation here FAQ FER.

Lease agreements

The Association for the Defence of Tenants’ Interests (ASLOCA) has requested, by letter, that the Federal Council suspend the expulsion deadlines in order to protect private and commercial tenants. Please see the original with an informal translation into English on our website.

Basically, the Asloca is requesting that the Swiss government accept that tenants who are losing business due to forced social distancing measures, are not evicted because of late payments of the rent and that no eviction procedures take place during this period.

Free translation here: ASLOCA REQUEST TO THE GOVERNMENT (1).

Constructions sites:

For the time being, construction sites are not affected by the measures taken by the Federal Council. However, Geneva and Vaud have decided to close all their constructions sites.

For more information:


Suspension of the debt recovery claims proceedings

From March, 19th, 2020 to April 4th, 2020 inclusive, summary proceedings for recovery claims will be suspended throughout Switzerland. The Federal Council took this decision at its meeting on March, 18th, 2020. This measure is intended to ease the situation for Swiss companies.

During the period above mentioned, it will not be possible to notify debtors of any acts of debt enforcement.

For further information, see a free translation of the news: Suspension debt recovery claims

Debt enforcement holidays

After this suspension of summary proceedings for debt recovery as per the relevant law, no act of debt recovery can be initiated of continued between April 5th and April 19th, 2020 (art. 56 LP).

Suspension of legal deadlines

Legal deadlines and deadlines fixed by the Swiss authorities and by the civil and administrative courts shall be suspended as usual for Easter between April 5th and April 19th, 2020.


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