Here are all the latest updates and news on coronavirus from CNNMoney Switzerland. We will be updating this page with new content on a regular basis.
9 April 2020
Switzerland is getting ready to reopen, part of an advance guard of countries embarking on Europe’s biggest experiment in public health.
After almost a month in confinement, the Swiss public learned Wednesday that the government will start relaxing its coronavirus restrictions at the end of April. Austria, Norway, and Denmark are also planning to ease their antivirus measures this month.
Having succeeded in suppressing the epidemic, the Federal Council is now trying to figure out how to reboot the economy while keeping the virus under control. Switzerland’s reliance on exports will be a major challenge, making a recovery dependent on how quickly major trade partners like Germany, the U.S., and China get back to work.
“We can do a lot on our own and the government is doing a superb job, but this is not only us, it’s the entire world,” said Markus Will, a senior economist at the University of St. Gallen. Europe needs a region-wide approach to the recovery, and Switzerland needs to be part of it, he said in an interview with CNNMoney’s Olivia Chang.
Switzerland’s post-lockdown plan, still a work in progress, remains under wraps until April 16. But the council has said the unwinding of restrictions will be gradual, with public health remaining the priority.
Countries emerging from confinement in Europe are taking different approaches. Norway is starting with schools and limited travel, while Austria is opening small shops, hardware stores, and nurseries. Germany is sticking to its lockdown for now, while Italy is mulling a move toward more personal freedom as early as this month.
“I would start with the production lines,” Will said. “We need to get the industry back running.”
Shops should be next to open, followed much later by restaurants and tourist activities, he said. Social distancing rules will mostly likely remain in place for the foreseeable future, slowing the economic recovery.
Pressure is building on governments to explain their plans because of the mounting economic costs of closing businesses and borders and curtailing public life. Economics Minister Guy Parmelin says the Swiss economy has taken an enormous hit with production collapsing about 25 percent.
The government is forecasting a recession this year. In the worst case, Swiss output could shrink by as much as 10.4 percent, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. If much of the economy remains on hold through June or July, the damage could easily add up to more than 10 percent, Will said.
Switzerland’s low ratio of debt to gross domestic product puts it in a better position to weather the crisis than many countries, because the government can afford to boost spending to stimulate the economy. The council has already launched a CHF 62 billion aid package, consisting mostly of guarantees on bank loans for small businesses and support for companies that keep workers on the payroll.
It may not be enough.
Switzerland will need months if not years to return to the economic level before the pandemic began, Will said. Much depends on how quickly the rest of the world rebounds.
Social media influencers are using their reach to raise awareness to the government’s message of staying home during the coronavirus crisis and also thanking key workers, such as those in health care. These influencers—Sara Leutenegger, Steven Epprecht, and Xenia Tchoumi, among others—are following a campaign initiated by Federal Councillor Alain Berset.
- SWISS RECOVERY FROM CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC MAY TAKE YEARS, ECONOMIST WARNS
A return to the economic level that existed before the coronavirus crisis will take months if not years, says Markus Will, senior economist at St. Gallen University. His comments come after the Swiss government warned that the economy could shrink 10 percent this year in a worst-case scenario.
Italy may look to ease some of its lockdown restrictions this month as evidence grows that the country has overcome the worst of the coronavirus epidemic.
With scientists working frantically to defeat the coronavirus, the world is likely to have as many as three vaccines ready to be deployed in 12 to 18 months, says Arnaud Bernaert, head of global health at the World Economic Forum. “We are in early stages but I’m optimistic,” he says.
Experts say antibody testing will play a crucial role in easing coronavirus lockdowns around the world and reviving economies. “If you have antibody tests you can identify those who are already immune and can go back safely to work and who might need a vaccine once a vaccine becomes available,” said Franz Walt, CEO of Swiss medical diagnostics company Quotient.
- YOGA, LIVE ON INSTAGRAM
People in coronavirus confinement have turned to online yoga classes as a way to cope with self-isolation. Swiss-based yoga teacher, Federica Sella, is giving free Instagram classes to Italians who have been in lockdown for weeks.
Andreas Züllig, owner of the four-star Hotel Schweizerhof in the Alpine resort of Lenzerheide, was having one of his best winters in 20 years before the coronavirus stole into Switzerland. As many as 200 guests were arriving daily to enjoy the abundant snow, driving revenues to record highs in January and February.
Mobiles phones have emerged as a key tool to track the spread of the coronavirus. But can they tell you whether you have the disease? Swiss-based Detect-Now has created an application that uses your smartphone to test for COVID-19 by recording the sound of your cough.
A mental health care adviser, a website for victims of domestic violence, and a streamlined application for short-time work. These were just some of the projects conjured up during the Versus Virus online hackathon for coping with COVID-19. But how feasible are they?
Google has chosen six European companies to take part in its new accelerator for start-ups working on sustainable development goals. In all, 11 finalists were selected from 1,120 applicants with help from UN experts.
The Swiss start-up Swoxid was working on an antiviral filter that can be sterilized with ultraviolet light when the coronavirus came along. Putting its agility to the test, the group shifted gears and is now seeking to apply the technology to making reusable masks.
While UBS and Credit Suisse are sticking to their 2019 dividend plans, many other banks will find it almost impossible to go ahead with payouts amid pressure from governments and regulators to conserve capital for the tough times ahead, says Martin Lück, chief investment strategist at BlackRock.
While Novartis continues to work on solutions to reduce complications due to coronavirus, it remains hopeful the wider industry will develop a vaccine in a year or so.
- SWISS START-UPS FACE EXISTENTIAL THREAT FROM COVID-19
In any year, start-ups face an uncertain future. Now the coronavirus pandemic is adding to the strain, as venture capital funding cools.
- SWISS DISTILLERIES SWAP OUT DRINKS FOR DISINFECTANT
Swiss distilleries are using high-proof alcohol to make disinfectant after Swiss regulators relaxed the rules, allowing them to distribute to any retail store or individual.
With the rising economic toll of containment measures, governments are asking whether the cure isn’t worse than the disease. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for example, initially wanted to allow COVID-19 to infect so many people that it would fizzle out on its own for lack of a host.
- TIPS FOR TACKLING CORONAVIRUS ANXIETY
Feeling anxious about your health, your business or your family during the coronavirus crisis? Marta Ra, CEO of Paracelsus Recovery, offers advice on how to cope with stress and shares five tips to keep you mentally healthy.
Swiss specialty chemicals company HeiQ has developed a treatment to make face masks more resistant to coronavirus. The ETH spin-off plans to treat 500 million masks with the antiviral product over the next four to eight weeks, says CEO Carlo Centonze.
- SNB PAYS SWISS BANKS TO LEND
The SNB has set up a refinancing facility to give banks access to liquidity needed to expand lending rapidly and on a large scale, President Thomas Jordan said. He said there is no upper limit on the amounts available and drawdowns can be made at any time. The interest rate will be minus 0.75, same as the SNB policy rate.
Coronavirus lockdowns have stoked demand for some gig workers like delivery drivers and supermarket assistants. For others, though, the crisis has meant the loss of employment, with few, if any, social protections.
Governments are pumping money into their economies to limit the damage from virus shutdowns when they should be trying to get the healthy back to work safely.
When it comes to putting a figure on the economic impact of the shutdown in Switzerland, Avenir Suisse says it isn’t straightforward. It says its estimates are conservative and warns of impending inflation issues post-crisis.
Some doctors in Switzerland are not testing everyone with COVID-19 symptoms, and when they do, it can come at a high cost—both to patients‘ wallets and their personal safety. A personal report.
Mattia De Angelis, 29, urges people not to underestimate the ruthlessness of coronavirus. “They need to take all of this very seriously,” he said via Skype from Cavalese Hospital in northern Italy, where he has been battling COVID-19-induced pneumonia for almost 10 days.
Demand for sensors in ventilators has grown three to six times during the coronavirus crisis, says Sensirion CEO Marc von Waldkirch.
Roche said it is working “around the clock” to increase availability of its COVID-19 tests and is speeding up production of Actemra, a drug that could be used to treat patients with coronavirus. Actemra is currently in a Phase 3 study to test its safety and efficacy in hospitalized adult patients with pneumonia caused by the virus.
In a country with just 1,000 beds equipped with ventilators, Swiss doctors may soon be confronted with the kind of decisions that their colleagues in Italy have been facing: how to prioritize patient care if there’s a shortage of resources.
EasyJet will join other airlines in grounding most of its fleet this week, impacting airports including Geneva’s, where the UK budget airline is the biggest operator.
The world is awaiting a vaccine against coronavirus but even when it arrives, not everyone will benefit. Some people with weak immune systems, such as the elderly and those with HIV, may not be eligible.
The Swiss government announced an additional CHF 32 billion in aid on Friday, mostly targeted at small- to medium-sized businesses hit by the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
With schools closed all over the globe, many parents have found themselves in the unexpected and perhaps uneasy situation of having to supervise their children’s schoolwork.
Looking for bargains in a bear market? Swisspartners CIO Peter Ahluwalia says some great deals await the brave of heart.
The Swiss National Bank refused to join the global rate-cutting frenzy today, signaling that it will step up currency interventions to stem the rise of the franc against the euro.
Doctors near the Swiss border with Italy started seeing the first coronavirus patients in early March and the number has been rising ever since.
Switzerland went into lockdown less than a week ago but for many small businesses that’s already way too long. Panic is setting in as they watch their revenue dry up and their cash pot dwindle.
- CORONAVIRUS: CLOSED RESTAURANTS, OPEN KITCHENS
Restaurants may be closed, but kitchens are still open for business. Here’s how Switzerland’s small businesses are trying to survive the coronavirus shutdown.
- CORONAVIRUS COULD COST THE WORLD 25 MILLION JOBS, UN SAYS
The economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic could increase global unemployment by as much as 25 million people, the International Labor Organization warns.
The Swiss government should set up a CHF 100 billion fund—about 15 percent of GDP—to help businesses survive the coronavirus crisis, two prominent economists say.
- THREE ASIAN CITIES SHOW EUROPE HOW TO FIGHT CORONAVIRUS
China’s draconian measures for controlling the coronavirus outbreak on the mainland cannot be easily replicated by nations in the rest of the world, which don’t have the same top-down power structure. But successful action taken in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan can serve as better examples, says Steven Jiang, a CNN senior producer based in Beijing.
- SWITZERLAND IN DESPERATE RACE TO STAY AHEAD OF CORONAVIRUS
Switzerland is in a desperate race against time as the number of new coronavirus infections continues to rise rapidly. Officials are imploring people to observe restrictions on social contact to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. Daniel Koch, head of the federal health office, says the country may have just a few more days to get the situation under control.
A Swiss tech start-up is rejiggering its model to help communities during the coronavirus lockdown.
- THE CORONAVIRUS BLUES
The coronavirus crisis is serving as a source of e inspiration for musicians and governments seeking to educate people about the disease and to help people cope with confinement.
- SWITZERLAND NEEDS MORE WIDESPREAD CORONAVIRUS TESTING, SAYS EPFL’S SALATHÉ
Switzerland should have started testing more liberally a long time ago to slow the spread of the coronavirus, says Marcel Salathé, an associate professor at EPFL and an expert in digital epidemiology.
UEFA announced today that is postponing Euro 2020 because of the coronavirus crisis. The quadrennial European football championships were originally supposed to take place from June 12 to July 12 across 12 countries to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the tournament.
Europe hunkered down Tuesday, with borders, schools, and businesses closed across the region and a police lockdown underway in the worst-hit countries.
- NEIGHBORS MOBILIZE AGAINST CORONAVIRUS
Communities are using social media to organize grocery shopping or help with other basic needs for people confined to their homes. Hilf-jetzt.ch, a platform set up on Friday, lists 300 groups that offer assistance to those coping with the coronavirus outbreak.
- ROCHE CEO ON THE ROLLOUT OF ITS NEW COVID-19 TESTS
The U.S. has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for a new coronavirus test that reduces the result time from days to mere hours. Developed by Roche, it is expected to speed up the ability to test patients by tenfold.
Companies all over the globe are struggling to cope with the disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis. Beatrix Morath, managing director of AlixPartners in Switzerland, recommends these tools and strategies to help lessen the impact on businesses.
Sally Yan, who has lived in Switzerland for 13 years, left her home in Zurich over the weekend to wait out the coronavirus pandemic in what she believes to be a safer location: Shanghai.
The Swiss government announced CHF 10 billion in aid for businesses and tightened borders as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to surge.
Tourasia and Diethelm Travel, a destination management company in Southeast Asia, saw business decline by 60 percent in February—and March will be worse, says CEO Stephan Roemer.
The airline industry is facing “one of the most severe crises” in 20 years, warned Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
For Swiss watchmakers, the coronavirus crisis in China has been a double whammy. Not only has it hit sales in a major market, but it has also disrupted supplies of components, says Oliviero Pesenti, director of Erbas.
- TIPS FOR THE CONSCIENTIOUS TELECOMMUTER
Not everyone enjoys working from home. Here are five tips on how to make the best of your home office during the coronavirus crisis.
Policymakers need to come up with creative solutions to help businesses survive a potential credit crunch as the coronavirus upends the global economy, says Esty Dwek, head of global market strategy at Natixis Investment Managers.
- CORONAVIRUS FUELS RECORD SALES OF COMPUTER SCREENS
Screens and other office supplies are in great demand these days as the coronavirus forces people to work from home. Digitec Galaxus is among retailers who say they are seeing record-breaking sales of some items.
Cash-strapped start-ups that manage to stay afloat in the coming months may struggle to survive the economic aftermath of the coronavirus, says Jordi Montserrat, co-founder of Venturelab, a group that supports entrepreneurs in Switzerland.
Forget gold and equity markets, Bitcoin stands in its own category, says Crypto Finance CEO Jan Brzezek. He argues that Bitcoin hasn’t reached the status of a safe haven—yet.
Hotels are especially exposed to the effects of coronavirus, from the spate of recent cancellations to travelers not even booking because of the current uncertainty.
At least 476 people have tested posted for coronavirus in Switzerland, but that number isn’t a reliable measure of the outbreak.
The 68,000 Italians employed in Switzerland are vital to the economy, says the president of AITI, the industry association of Ticino, which explains why the Swiss border remains open despite the lockdown in neighboring Italy.
Despite a nationwide shutdown in Italy, cross-border workers are still welcome in Switzerland. CNNMoney Switzerland reports from Chiasso as the number of cases of the virus continues to grow.
Countries including Switzerland are abandoning efforts to keep a precise count of coronavirus cases and are focusing instead on helping hospitals cope with patient overload, says Michael Hengartner, president of the board at Swiss university ETH.
- SOCIAL DISTANCING AT THE SWISS STOCK EXCHANGE
The Swiss stock exchange operator today joined a growing number of financial institutions that are instructing some employees to work from home or other locations as the financial industry braces for disruption from the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
As authorities around the world scramble to contain the coronavirus, people are facing a new dilemma: how to greet someone without a handshake. Here are five suggestions.
- READY, SET, GO? THE LATEST ON TOKYO 2020
Is Japan ready to host the Olympic Games and deal with the coronavirus? CNN International correspondent Blake Essig reports from Japan’s newly-built national stadium in Tokyo.
- IOC TAKING WAIT-AND-SEE APPROACH TO CORONAVIRUS
Coronavirus was a major topic at this week’s meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board in Lausanne. But President Thomas Bach says the words “cancellation” and “postponement” never came up.
- STUCK AT HOME? THE SWISS GOVERNMENT’S EMERGENCY KIT
Do you know what you need to survive a crisis? If you don’t, fear not—the Swiss government has you covered. Its decades-old list includes bottled water, rice, batteries, and yes, chocolate and cheese.
Advances in technology are coming together during the coronavirus epidemic to help scientists break new ground at an unprecedented rate.
The spread of coronavirus is pushing people to seek medical advice—by phone. The Swiss government’s coronavirus hotline, run by Basel-based Medgate, has logged more 20,000 calls over the past five weeks.
The Swiss National Bank will probably participate in any coordinated action by central banks to shore up the global economy in response to the coronavirus epidemic, the former deputy governor of Ireland’s central bank said Tuesday.
Coronavirus fears have sent the demand for hand sanitizers soaring. Many pharmacies and online shops in Switzerland are sold out. But making your own hand disinfectant isn’t hard.
Millions of jobs in Europe rely on the tourism industry, which has been rocked by the coronavirus. “We’re almost getting to the stage where travelers have something of a moral duty to continue to travel,” says travel writer Simon Calder.
Thousands of hotel rooms are empty following the cancellation of major Swiss events. Cafés, bars, and restaurants are seeing fewer customers. Adrien Genier, CEO of Geneva Tourism & Conventions Foundation, says that the industry is still optimistic the situation will turn around.
The idea that employees need to be present in the office remains persistent despite huge leaps in technology since the SARS outbreak in 2003, when there were only laptops and basic mobile phones. But that may be about to change as the coronavirus forces tens of millions of people in China and beyond to work from home.
On the heels of the Geneva Motor Show being cancelled, the verdict is also in for Baselworld 2020: The watch and jewelry exhibition is officially postponed until the end of January 2021. The question now is how rival fair Watches and Wonders Geneva will respond to the move, as the two expos had previously agreed to sync up their dates to boost attendance.
Automakers may reconsider the value of big, expensive car shows after the Geneva Motor Show was cancelled due to coronavirus fears, says Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer at CNN Business.
The Geneva Motor Show was cancelled Friday due to coronavirus fears, dealing a fresh blow to an industry already crippled by the outbreak in China. Baselworld, one of the world’s largest watch fairs, was also called off after the Swiss government announced a ban on public and private gatherings involving more than 1,000 people. The measure, valid through March 15, takes effect immediately.
The German industrial giant Siemens expects the coronavirus epidemic to dent its financial performance this year, the head of its Swiss business said in an interview with CNNMoney.
Many Swiss multinationals have adopted policies to prevent workers in Asia from contracting or spreading the coronavirus. Now they are applying these restrictions closer to home as the disease gains ground in Europe.
Preventing coronavirus is all about personal hygiene. Here the World Health Organization explains how you can minimize exposure and help protect others around you.
- WORRIED ABOUT YOUR CROSS-BORDER COLLEAGUE?
About 6.5 percent of workers in Switzerland commute from neighboring countries, including Italy, raising concerns they could bring the coronavirus with them. Economiesuisse says such fears are exaggerated, adding that many Swiss businesses can be run from home if need be.
- CARNIVAL REVELERS MOCK VIRUS THREAT
The Venice Carnival has been cut short due to the outbreak of coronavirus, but that isn’t stopping revelers in Lucerne from celebrating their biggest party of the year.
- HOW TICINO IS DEALING WITH VIRUS THREAT
Hours before Switzerland confirmed its first case of coronavirus, the city of Lugano was already on edge.
A deadly epidemic is still no excuse to slack off. Demand for online education has surged in China as the coronavirus confines children to their homes.
A 70-year-old man from Ticino was diagnosed with the virus on Tuesday, about a week after he returned from a trip to northern Italy, health officials said.