GENEVA (XINHUA) - Switzerland will lift almost all its Covid-19 restrictions from Thursday (Feb 17), the country's Federal Council said on Wednesday, citing recent improvements in the epidemiological situation.
"Thanks to the high level of immunity among the population, it is unlikely that the healthcare system will be overburdened despite the continued high level of virus circulation," it said.
The only requirements that will remain until the end of March are the obligation for those who test positive for Covid-19 to self- isolate for five days and mandatory mask-wearing on public transportation and in healthcare institutions.
The wearing of masks will no longer be mandatory in shops, restaurants, workplaces and other public settings.
People in Switzerland will no longer be obliged to present a Covid-19 certificate to enter bars, restaurants and other indoor venues, and the restrictions on the size of private gatherings and large events will be also lifted.
Health-related measures for European Union (EU) residents entering the country will also be lifted, meaning that it will no longer be necessary to provide proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test at the border on entry, the Swiss government statement said.
"Switzerland is taking a decisive and important step towards normality," Mr Ignazio Cassis, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, told reporters on Wednesday.
Several other European countries, among them Denmark, Britain, France and the Netherlands, have also gradually eased Covid-19 measures in recent weeks.
The number of new Covid-19 cases increased markedly between mid-October 2021 and early February, with the average number of daily new infections surpassing 40,000.
On Feb 8, the authorities announced that the number of new infections had finally peaked, and it has since been falling steadily.
On Wednesday, the country reported 21,032 new cases. The seven-day average daily figure is now down by almost a quarter compared with the previous week.
According to official figures, more than 90 per cent of the country's 8.6 million population have developed a certain immunity to the virus, having either recovered from an infection or been vaccinated.