IMPORTANT INFORMATION CONCERNING THE "COVID-19-SITUATION"

(updated July 2, 2020)

Latest development of the situation

At its meeting on 1 July, the Federal Council took decisions on various measures to prevent the renewed spread of the coronavirus. In view of the increasing volume of people travelling and the rising number of new infections since mid-June, it has decided to make masks compulsory on public transport throughout the country from Monday, 6 July. In addition, travellers from certain regions will have to go into quarantine. Entry restrictions are expected to be lifted for an initial group of third countries from 20 July.

More people are travelling on public transport since the Federal Council largely lifted measures to fight the coronavirus epidemic. As a result, it is often not possible to respect the recommended distance. In view of the increasing volume of people travelling, and the rising number of new infections since mid-June, the Federal Council is reinforcing its protective measures and has subsequently taken a fundamental decision to make the wearing of masks compulsory in all forms of public transport nationwide. From Monday, 6 July, persons over the age of 12 will have to wear a mask in trains, trams and buses, as well as on mountain rail and cableways and on lake and river boats. The amended ordinance will be adopted and published tomorrow.

An urgent recommendation is already in place to wear a mask when travelling on public transport at peak times. However, few people are heeding this advice. Today’s decision by the Federal Council also comes in response to expert recommendations and at the request of certain cantons. The World health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also recommend that masks be worn if it is not possible to respect the necessary distance.

Quarantine for travellers from certain areas
Since mid-June, the number of new cases of coronavirus has been rising in Switzerland as infected persons have entered the country from countries within the Schengen area and from non-Schengen countries. Consequently, with effect from Monday, 6 July, travellers entering Switzerland from certain regions will have to go into quarantine for ten days. The FOPH has a list of the countries concerned, which it updates regularly. Travellers affected will be notified during the flight, on board coaches and at border crossings. They will have to register with the cantonal authorities on arrival. The new ordinance will be adopted and published tomorrow. Airlines and travel companies will also be instructed not to transport sick passengers.

Entry restrictions to remain in place until 20 July
At its meeting on 1 July 2020, the Federal Council took note of the EU Council recommendations on lifting the entry restrictions that will apply to 15 specific countries from 1 July. Switzerland is expected to follow these recommendations, but from 20 July and with the exception of Serbia. On 20 July, the Federal Department of Justice and Police FDJP intends to remove Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay and the EU states outside the Schengen area (Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, Romania and Cyprus) from the list of high-risk countries. China is also expected to be removed from the list in line with the EU recommendations, provided it guarantees reciprocal rights of entry to people travelling from Switzerland.

More Information about SwissCovid app and contact tracing (link)

IMPACTS ON OUR BUSINESS HOURS

Law firms, as purely advisory service providers, are not affected by the officially ordered business closures (link to the regulation).

In compliance with the hygiene recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (link), our office remains open for you.

Meetings can take place in person, by telephone or, without any problems, by video conference. You can reach us by phone from 09:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 17:00.

IMPACTS ON JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS

In accordance with the decision of the higher court of the Canton of Berne on March 18, 2020, the civil and criminal jurisdiction negotiations of the Canton of Berne were suspended until April 19, 2020, with the exception of urgent proceedings. As far as possible, the procedures are carried out in writing - this also applies to complaints procedures in the area of ​​care. All non-urgent examination hearings in criminal proceedings were also suspended (until April 26). Court hearings in criminal cases were resumed on April 20, 2020 - in civil cases the court hearings were resumed on May 11, 2020.

The Federal Council has specified in an ordinance (link in German) the conditions under which the civil courts can order the use of teleconferences or videoconferences or written procedures instead of hearings. They must comply with data protection and security provisions and the obligation to keep records. However, hearing a child by teleconference or videoconference in civil proceedings is excluded.

We will inform our clients directly about the concrete effects on the current cases.

IMPACTS ON PRISON REGIME

If there is a serious reason to suspect a case of COVID-19 in an establishment or if a case is confirmed, visits may again be temporarily prohibited in order to contain the spread of the virus. In such cases, the OEJ will provide appropriate alternatives such as increased use of the telephone or video telephone to allow detained persons to stay in touch with the outside world. Outings and leaves are prohibited. Special leave may be granted for matters which cannot be postponed, for example for a job interview or for the search for accommodation, provided that the legal conditions are met and the instructions of the Federal Office of Public Health respected (link, in German).

IMPACTS ON RENTAL AGREEMENTS of commercial premises

In the context of the coronavirus crisis, the payment of commercial rents will be divided between lessors and tenants. On July 1, 2020, the Federal Council put a project along these lines in consultation. For the period of closure or restriction ordered, the tenants will have to pay 40% of the rent and the lessors will have to assume the remaining 60%. The consultation ends on August 4, 2020.


IMPACTS ON ENFORCEMENT and bankruptcy PROCEEDINGS

The Federal Council intends to prevent bankruptcies due to the coronavirus and the ensuing job losses through targeted measures. At its meeting of April 16, 2020, it adopted an order which provides for a transitional exemption from the obligation to notify the judge in the event of over-indebtedness, which would generally result in immediate bankruptcy, and institutes a COVID-19 stay of limited time, which SMEs in particular may request in a non-bureaucratic manner. These provisions come into force on April 20, 2020 (link in German).

IMPACTS ON TAX PROCEEDINGS

The tax administration of the Canton of Berne has already implemented numerous measures in connection with the current situation. In particular, the deadlines for filing the tax declaration for private individuals and the self-employed have been extended to September 15, 2020. In addition, a reminder and debt enforcement hold until June 30, 2020, applies to all claims of the Canton of Berne.

IMPACTS ON BUSINESSES AND CORPORATIONS

On March 20, 2020, the Federal Council also resolved a comprehensive package of measures amounting to CHF 32 billion to cushion the economic consequences of the spread of the corona virus. The measures already adopted on March 13 are intended to provide over CHF 40 billion. The measures include liquidity support for companies, the expansion and simplification of the short-time work allowance and also compensation for loss of earnings for self-employed persons and for parents whose childcare outside for their children fails.

At its meeting on April 16, 2020, the Federal Council decided to extend the right to the COVID-19 loss of earnings allowance. From now on, the self-employed who are only indirectly affected by official pandemic control measures will also be entitled to an allowance if they are authorized to work, but their activity has decreased or ended because of said measures. example of taxi drivers. The right to the allowance for parents of children with disabilities who must keep them at home will also be extended to children up to the age of 20 years (link in German).

The phasing out of measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic requires adaptations in terms of compensation for lost earnings. On April 22, 2020, the Federal Council decided to extend until May 16 the right to this allowance for the self-employed who can reopen their business on April 27 or May 11 (link in German).

Companies and the self-employed who are now faced with a drop in sales can quickly and unbureaucratically apply for bridging loans (mostly through their house bank) from March 26, 2020 (a ll information and the application form can be found here: link).

Innovative start-ups are an important success factor for the Swiss economy. However, they have so far been unable to use the Confederation's emergency measures, or only to a very limited extent. This is why the Confederation intends to use the bonding system in addition to the COVID-19 credits from the Confederation and cantonal support measures, in order to protect promising start-ups from insolvency linked to the coronavirus. Given the urgency of the situation, the Federal Council decided on April 22, 2020 to use the bonding system already enjoyed by SMEs to support start-ups. Startups submit a loan guarantee application via this website (link).

In order to lighten the burden of businesses and the self-employed in this extraordinary situation, social insurance (AVS, AI, APG, AC) generally waive, until June 30, 2020, the collection of default interest on arrears of contribution. The measure is applied retroactively from March 21. However, contributions remain due and must be paid in full. From July 1, 2020, the compensation funds will again present summons in the event of non-payment of contributions and may, if necessary, initiate proceedings

Since March 20, 2020, companies experiencing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus crisis have been able to request a suspension of payment of interest-free contributions. They must then undertake to make payments by regular installments. The possibility of a payment in installments of the contributions due remains valid and this payment will be interest free until September 20, 2020 (link, in German).

The government council of Berne amended the regulation on emergency measures to deal with the coronavirus crisis. The previous measures are supplemented by the following additional ones. As a property owner, the canton of Berne can waive the net rent, lease and building right interest for restaurants, bars, shops and other facilities affected by the federal law closure. Upon request, the corresponding interest for the months of April, May and June 2020 can be waived in whole or in part (link, in German).

On April 1, 2020, the Federal Council decided to temporarily modify the ordinance on electronic signature. This change is an additional measure to stem the spread of the coronavirus. It provides for a general possibility of identification by video when certificates are issued, which avoids travel and personal contact (link, in German).

The cultural sector is strongly affected by the VIDOC-19 pandemic and the measures taken by the authorities to mitigate its effects. On 20 March 2020, the Federal Council therefore decided on a package of measures worth CHF 280 million for culture. Applications for financial support can be submitted to the cantons, the Swiss Social Culture Association or amateur cultural associations (link, in German).

In response to the coronavirus pandemic the Federal Council has declared that an extraordinary situation exists in Switzerland. Among other things this has an impact on arrangements relating to compulsory basic health and accident insurance. Since 4 March 2020, health insurers have been obliged to cover the costs of coronavirus testing for patients with severe symptoms. Basically the insured person pays a share of the cost (via their annual deductible and copayment). If a canton orders the test, it pays the full costs. You will find all further information concerning this matter here (link).

At its meeting on April 16, 2020, the Federal Council adopted amendments and clarifications to Ordinance 2 on measures to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19). These modifications and clarifications aim to avoid any ambiguity and any misunderstanding and bring clarification to the population. The ban on shopping trips and the provisions relating to fines in particular are explicitly regulated (link in German)

On April 29, 2020, the Federal Council decided that initial and additional training as well as examinations in the field of road traffic will be authorized again as of May 11, 2020, provided that the organizer has developed and is implementing a protection plan and that it ensures that the recommendations of the FOPH in terms of hygiene and social distancing are respected. In addition, the number of participants in initial and additional training must not exceed five people (teacher included). On the other hand, it is not limited with regard to exams (e.g. theoretical exam).

Should your company require legal assistance in connection with the current situation (e.g. for the assertion of short-time work compensation due to closure or loss of turnover), we would be happy to provide legal advice.

Easing