Geneva, 5 March 2021 (dpa/MIA) — Switzerland is to offer free coronavirus tests to the public and commuters from across the borders as of mid-March, the government said on Friday, in a move that facilitate greater easing of restrictions.
Once reliable tests are available, each person will be given five self-testing kits per month. Such tests cost roughly 178 dollars.
As a whole, the program is expected to cost 1 billion francs (1 billion dollars), for a population of 8.6 million.
Leaders are due to make a final decision on March 12.
The massive expansion of testing comes after much discussion but is intended to enable further opening of the economy and society.
Swiss shops and museums have been reopened since the start of the week, but restaurants are still closed.
Even with mass testing, safety regulations such as social distancing and mask requirements are still important, the government said, as tests only provide a snapshot.
Negative test results should not lead to a false sense of security and careless behavior, it added.
The country held a minute’s silence and churches rang bells in memory of those who have died in the pandemic during the past year.
Switzerland has recorded a death toll of more than 9,300.
President Guy Parmelin called on citizens to think of the relatives of the deceased, as well as patients in hospitals and those suffering from the continuing effects of the virus.
The number of cases has risen recently, with 1,222 new cases on Friday, up 150 compared to a week ago.
Calculated over a 14-day period, the country has around 164 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.