Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Switzerland: Government Prohibits Mass Events to Contain Spread of Coronavirus

(Mar. 2, 2020) On February 28, 2020, the Swiss Federal Council—­the Swiss government—­met in an extraordinary session and adopted a regulation that aims to prevent or contain the spread of the coronavirus in Switzerland, reduce or prevent the risk of transmission, and protect especially vulnerable people and those with a heightened risk of infection. The regulation is based on section 6, paragraph 2, letter b of the Epidemics Act and entered into force immediately. It will expire on March 15, 2020.

The regulation prohibits public and private events of 1,000 people or more in Switzerland. For public and private events with less than 1,000 people, the organizers must conduct a risk assessment together with the competent cantonal authority. (Regulation art. 2.) The cantonal authorities are authorized to make unannounced inspections at event locations. (Art. 3.) The cantons are in charge of monitoring the measures taken according to article 2. (Art. 4.)

In general, the Swiss cantons enforce the Epidemics Act. However, section 6, paragraph 2, letter b of the Epidemics Act allows the federal government, after consulting the cantons, to pass measures when an “extraordinary situation” exists. An “extraordinary situation” is defined as a situation

  • in which the regular enforcement authorities are not capable of preventing and combating the outbreak and spread of communicable diseases and one of the following risks is present:
    • A heightened risk of infection and spread;
    • An extraordinary risk to public health;
    • A serious impact on the economy or other areas of life; or
  • where the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergency of international concern that threatens public health in Switzerland. (Epidemics Act § 6, para. 1.)