Elderly Can Leave Homes, Resume Normal Activity: Switzerland

Switzerland announced on May 8 that people over the age of 65 can leave their homes and resume their normal activities.

Due to the low rates of COVID-19 infections in the country, more flexibility can be given to the elderly, said health minister Alain Berset at a press conference in Switzerland, but emphasized that social distancing and hygiene should still be practiced, reported the Local Europe.

He also noted the difference between elderly people who are healthy and those with pre-existing health conditions, saying, “the situation is not the same for a 66-year-old in good health as for a 75-year-old with preexisting and multiple serious illnesses.”

Previously, since March 16, people over 65 were encouraged to stay home as much as possible. Health officials stated that people in this age group, especially those with preexisting health conditions, had a higher risk of infection.

Vaud, a state in Switzerland, released a list of guidelines for seniors to follow should they want to resume their normal activities.

According to those guidelines, seniors are required to keep a distance of 6 feet from others, and in cases where that’s not possible, they must wear masks.

Seniors are also required to follow all hygienic procedures, such as washing hands before and after physical contact. If a handwashing station is not readily available, then they must use hand sanitizer.

The guidelines also state that public social gatherings should be limited to five people or less. Public social gatherings include meetings in parks, public gardens, as well as play areas. Private gatherings are limited to 10 people.

The Local Europe also reported that according to Daniel Koch, Switzerland’s head of the infectious diseases unit at the Public Health Department, grandparents don’t need to keep a distance from their grandchildren, and can now hug their grandchildren. However, Koch said that grandchildren who can have physical contact with their grandparents should be under the age of 10.

The reason for the change is that officials now know that “young children don’t transmit the virus,” Koch said, noting that it is important that grandparents be allowed to see their grandchildren “for their wellbeing.”

However, Koch stressed that despite the ease up on the requirements on social distancing, grandparents are still restricted from holding get-togethers in public.

“We are talking about brief contact with grandchildren, not get-togethers with the entire family, babysitting, or spending time with the kids outside the home,” Koch said.