The contact tracing application of EPFL and ETHZ will be tested from Wednesday, May 13

Alain Berset during the press conference, 8 May in Berne. | Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

At a meeting on 8 May, the Federal Council discussed four urgent points related to the relaxation measures of the Covid-19 confinement for 11 May: the launch of the contact tracing application DP-3T, an emergency fund for daycare centers, the reopening of restaurants, and the reopening of border crossings. Alain Berset, Federal Councillor in charge of health, presented these decisions.

Why are we talking about this? The DP-3T application was due to be launched on 11 May, but Parliament decided that a legal basis had to be developed before it could be made available at its extraordinary session, which ended on 6 May. Restaurants had to develop a protection strategy before reopening on 11 May. For daycare centers, the Federal Council must draw up an ordinance by 20 May for the distribution of the CHF 65 million voted in Parliament. As far as the borders are concerned, it is only a question of implementing the decisions presented on 29 April.

The decisions. At the press conference on Friday 8 May, only very concrete topics were presented for the second phase of loosening lockdown measures, which begins on Monday 11 May.

Running the DP-3T contact tracing project. Parliament decided that a legal basis was needed before a proximity tracing application could be launched. The public launch of this technology is therefore postponed until Parliament has made its decision. The Federal Council must then supplement the Epidemics Act and will submit an urgent message by 20 May, which Parliament can adopt during its session on 2-19 June.

Developed jointly by EPFL, ETHZ and the Confederation, the application will be tested from 13 May in a pilot phase, for which the Federal Council is to issue an decree, which will ensure its time-restricted effectivity. Alain Berset stated that:

"The test phase will last until the end of May. It will be limited to small groups and will be designed to answer a range of questions, including questions on data protection. The actual launch will start as soon as the Parliament has made a decision.

We in the Federal Council will make every effort to ensure that this is possible from the first week of the June session. We will propose an urgent message to Parliament on 20 May to make this possible. The processing of this law must be swift so that we can quickly move from the test phase to the launch. But if Parliament does not want our proposal, there will simply be no implementation. It's up to Parliament to decide."

This application must make it possible to identify the chains of transmission of the virus in order to contain its spread, without infringing on privacy. No personal data or location information of users will be exploited. All data will be deleted after 21 days. In addition, it will only be used in the containment phase of the epidemic, to supplement the contact tracing program which the cantons will resume throughout Switzerland from 11 May onwards.

Support for daycare. The Federal Council did not wish to support childcare institutions outside of the family. However, Parliament decided otherwise by granting emergency aid of CHF 65 million to daycare centers that have suffered financial losses as a result of the crisis. An ordinance to this effect is to be drawn up by 20 May, which will work retroactively, from 17 March for a period of six months.

Reopening of restaurants. This sector was to present a protection concept before the reopening of restaurants on 11 May. This week the message has been somewhat blurred by back and forth exchanges between GastroSuisse and the Confederation. From Monday on, restaurants will have to comply with the following measures:

  • Each table should seat a maximum of four people, or parents and their children

  • All clients must be seated and tables must be two metres apart or isolated with a dividing element

  • To facilitate contact tracing in restaurants, contact information for one person per customer group should be written down. However, this recommendation is optional.

Borders. As announced on 29 April, a gradual easing of restrictions on entry into Switzerland will take effect from 11 May:

  • processing of applications submitted before the restrictions were adopted by workers from EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states or third countries.

  • examination of applications from EU or EFTA nationals with a contract concluded before the crisis.

  • Family reunification will once again be possible for family members of Swiss citizens and citizens of EU or EFTA member states.

  • Border controls will be maintained.

  • The opening of border control offices will be carried out in consultation with the competent Swiss and foreign partner authorities. This will be communicated in due course.