ZURICH - Switzerland will require negative coronavirus tests from people entering the country from high-risk areas as of Feb. 8, the government said on Wednesday.
It also proposed doubling to 5 billion Swiss francs ($5.63 billion) the fund financed by the federal and cantonal governments to support businesses hit hard by restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
It also said in a statement after a cabinet meeting it was ready to reactivate a scheme providing state guarantees for bank loans to affected companies, should the credit market deteriorate.
It extended unemployment benefits by three months, a move that would cost around 500 million francs, and said the federal government would finance around 6 billion francs in extra spending to cover compensation for workers on shortened working hours.
"It's clear that people without work in this situation hardly have a chance to find a new position," Swiss President Guy Parmelin said. "With the decision from today, the federal government is clearing the way for about 8 billion francs for short-time work and hardship cases. Not everything is perfect, but we're working on it."
Switzerland this month tightened measures to tackle new variants of the COVID-19 virus spreading across the country while stopping short of the full lockdown neighbouring countries have adopted to choke off the pandemic.
Health authorities have reported more than 515,000 cases and around 8,500 deaths in Switzerland and neighbouring Liechtenstein since the pandemic broke out in February 2020.