Defiant cantons bend to government will on ski terraces 

Switzerland has kept its ski resorts open, unlike neighbouring countries. But restaurants are closed except for takeaways and their terraces must stay closed too. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Several Swiss cantons that had re-opened ski resort restaurant terraces in defiance of national rules are now reluctantly performing a U-turn under pressure from the federal government. 

This content was published on February 26, 2021 - 16:18

Cantons in central Switzerland as well as Glarus and Ticino said on Friday they would close open air terraces again at the weekend. Graubünden, which had also defied the ban, announced earlier in the week that it was changing tack under pressure. 

Unlike neighbouring countries, Switzerland opened its ski resorts during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but with strict hygiene rules.  

“Non-essential” shops, restaurants, bars, culture and sports venues are currently closed across the country in a bid to stem the spread of the virus, particularly in light of new, more contagious strains. With case numbers and hospitalisations now coming down slowly, the government announced on February 17 it would “cautiously and gradually” loosen restrictions put in place on January 15.  

Starting on March 1, it plans to re-open shops, museums and sports facilities. Restaurants will have to wait until at least March 22. There has been strong pressure to speed up the relaxation of measures, and when this was not done, some cantons defiantly re-opened restaurant terraces in ski resorts for takeaways. 

On Thursday, they had indicated that the terraces would provisionally remain open. The cantons concerned wanted to convince Health Minister Alain Berset that their closure was counterproductive in view of the danger of coronavirus infections. On Friday morning, they reversed their decision and are closing the terraces until further notice. 

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