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Have any emergency powers been enacted in response to the covid-19 pandemic in your country? How long do they last, what are the provisions for extension/prolongation, what are the provisions for review?

According to art. 7 of the law on epidemics, the Swiss Federal Council (seven elected people, including the president) can issue ordonnances which serve as law for a maximum of 6 months (art. 12 al. 3, Ordonnance 2 COVID-19, 2020). Although the ordonnances come into force immediately, they must be approved by parliament a posteriori. A first extraordinary parliamentary session is scheduled for 4 May 2020 to validate some of the ordonnances enacted so far relative to COVID-19 (Services du Parlement, 2020).

Have any restrictions on public gatherings been imposed? How are they enforced?

Yes, all public or private manifestations/reunions (association, sport, commercial activities, etc.) (art. 6) and gatherings of more than five people in the public space, such as public squares, promenades and in parks are prohibited. Cantonal police forces are empowered to enforce this prohibition (7, Ordonnance 2 COVID-19, 2020). There are some derogations, e.g., gas station, railway station, hospital, pharmacy, etc. (art. 6, al. 2).

Sanctions related to art. 6 is a maximum of three years prison or a pecuniary sanction. Sanctions related to art. 7 (gathering of more than 5 persons in public space) is a 100 CHF fine.

Have restrictions on leaving home been imposed? How are they enforced?

No, it is highly recommended to stay at home, especially if you are considered at risk (more than 65 or suffering from other illnesses). But, there is no interdiction to leave home if one can keep social distanciation (2,5m).

Have any other new powers been granted to law enforcement authorities? (e.g. in the UK, to detain potentially infectious persons)


Are the authorities making new use of telecommunications or other data?

A telephone operator communicates to the confederation if more than 20 mobile phones are within a 100X100m public zone. However, the information should be communicated with 24h delay and should be anonymous and aggregated (Seydtaghia, 2020).

Are there instances of law enforcement authorities exceeding powers? Can you provide a summary/summaries?

If there is, it is not publicized. I am then unable to give you examples.

Have any restrictions been placed on the media, or instructions handed down to media organisations, regarding reporting on the pandemic?

There are no official restrictions, but a survey conducted by the Swiss Association of Journalists reveals that journalists feel obstructed in their work. They note in particular the difficulty of access to some public facilities and sometimes even censorship.

Swiss association of Journalists:


testimony (german):


What (if any) role has been given to the military?

Switzerland has a militia army, so the people mobilized (4000 persons) aren’t military professional.

According to the requests of the cantons, the army is mobilizing in:

  • staff support in hospital facilities in general care and patient treatment;
  • -support for measures to stop the spread of COVID-19;
  • support for transportation of infected patients;
  • support to the cantonal police forces in the field of security;
  • support for border protection and control;
  • support in carrying out other logistical tasks.

More information: https://www.vtg.admin.ch/fr/actualite/coronavirus/tableau-recapitulatif.html

But in reality, it seems that an important part of the military mobilized are in fact waiting orders in barracks. Furthermore the one on the field are not really helping as they have not always an adequate training for the task at hand (Busslinger, 2020).


Busslinger, B. (2020, April 8). Armée: Les mobilisés immobiles. Le Temps, https://www.letemps.ch/suisse/armee-mobilises-immobiles

Ordonnance 2 sur les mesures destinées à lutter contre le coronavirus (COVID-19), 818.101.24 Ordonnance 2 COVID-19 (2020), https://www.admin.ch/opc/fr/classified-compilation/20200744/index.html

Services du Parlement. (2020). Instruments à la dispositiondes commissions en prévision de la session extraordinaire de mai2020, https://www.parlament.ch/centers/documents/fr/handlungsinstrumente-kommissionen-ausserordentliche-session-mai-2020-f.pdf

Seydtaghia, A. (2020, March 25). Swisscom aidera la Confédération à détecter les attroupements via les téléphones. Le Temps, https://www.letemps.ch/economie/swisscom-aidera-confederation-detecter-attroupements-via-telephones

Information on this contribution

Date: Received on 18 May 2020

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