Switzerland has decided to re-allow mass gatherings in public spaces, with several stipulations, starting April 19, Alain Berset, the head of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs, announced on Wednesday.
"This morning we decided to open the terraces of restaurants, cinemas and fitness centres, as well as hold mass events," Berset said in a statement.
The new guidelines, which will come into effect next Monday, allow for people to visit public terraces, but they are limited to groups of four, must remain seated at the tables, and must register their visit with officials.
Although the Central European nation set five criteria needed to begin lifting anti-COVID restrictions back in March, they have still yet to achieve four of the five. For example, intensive care units in the country remain above the 70 percent capacity benchmark. Nevertheless, they have decided to go forward and begin reopening public spaces.
Places such as theatres, concert halls, zoos, and public parks will reopen to the public, with the stipulation that people practice social distancing and continue wearing masks around others. However, individuals who have received a COVID vaccination or already contracted the virus are not required to wear masks.
Open-air gatherings in the country will be limited to 100 participants, and gatherings in closed spaces will be limited to 50. It is recommended that private activities such as sports be limited to no more than 15 people.
Europe continues to move forward with its mass vaccination endeavor in spite of recent setbacks involving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has seen shipments to the continent paused after officials began investigating a rare blood-clotting side effect.