Thursday, May 14, 2020
On May 14, 2020 the Liechtenstein Government announced that the total number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 remains at 82 (out of a population of just over 38,000). No new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Liechtenstein since early April.
May 15 and 18 Easing of Coronavirus-Related Restrictions
Starting 15 May 2020, services at places of worship will be allowed to resume. In addition, funeral services will be able to take place without limits to the number of family members or friends in attendance. Restaurants will be able to open, but will be limited to a maximum of four people per table (or parents with their children). Tables for patron groups must be located at least two meters apart or separated by partition. Museums, libraries, archives, as well as sports centers, sport venues and fitness centers will be allowed to reopen. All sports facilities and establishments will only be able to conduct activities that do not require the touching of others and in groups of up to five people only. Fitness and sport classes such as yoga or spinning are therefore also limited to five people including the instructor.
Public and private events, as well as the gathering of people continues to be limited to a maximum of five people. All establishments and facilities must implement and provide adequate protections policies that seek to prevent infection or at the very least make an infection less likely. This includes social-distancing of at least two meters and the wearing of masks. In addition, as proper social-distancing while using public transportation may be difficult, the Liechtenstein Government recommends the wearing of masks while on public transportation. Children who use school buses to get to school will be provided masks.
Starting 18 May 2020, in-person classes in kindergarten, primary and secondary public schools, as well as state-approved private schools, will gradually be resumed. Instruction will be conducted in compliance with safety precautions and with certain restrictions. Kindergarten through fifth-grade classes will conduct instructions under strict hygiene and distance precautions. Classes at the secondary grade levels will consist of a combination of in-person and remote instruction. Adult continuing education institutions are also allowed to offer in-person activities. In addition, out-of-house childcare facilities may also resume business.
Financial Relief Measures
A central element of Liechtenstein’s domestic measures is the mitigation of the grave economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The Liechtenstein Parliament approved two stimulus measures to cushion the economic consequences of the health crisis. This happened at record speed, with the first special session taking place on 20 March, the second on 8 April.
So far the Liechtenstein Government has made a total of 100 million Swiss Francs (roughly $100 million) available to support the national economy, amounting to 1.6% of the country’s GDP. This consists of 25 million Swiss Francs earmarked for the granting of liquidity loans to companies by the Liechtensteinische Landesbank, an additional 25 million Swiss Francs for general economic development, and 50 million Swiss Francs for the financing of short-time work through unemployment insurance to prevent an increase in unemployment. Liechtenstein's 11 municipalities are also supporting the national financial package with an additional 20 million Swiss Francs.
It will be further assessed whether more financial stimulus measures will be required. Adrian Hasler, Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, has indicated that Liechtenstein's fiscal reserves are in a good position to absorb further financial distributions if needed.
Multilateral Financial Measures
Liechtenstein is also committed to international solidarity, and will provide substantial assistance, both through bilateral and multilateral channels, in these times of unprecedented crisis. In doing so, Liechtenstein has contributed 500,000 Swiss Francs to the UN Secretary General’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan to COVID-19. The contribution will be directed to the efforts of the WHO, UNHCR and World Food Program (WFP):
- WHO: Liechtenstein provides the World Health Organization (WHO) with a contribution of 300,000 Swiss Francs for the implementation of its COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan which outlines the public health measures that the international community stands ready to provide to support all countries to prepare for and respond to COVID-19;
- UNHCR: Liechtenstein is deeply concerned at the prospects of rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situations due to COVID-19 with regard to refugees and their host communities. Liechtenstein contributes 100‘000 Swiss Francs to UNHCR‘s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal, which aims at improving prevention and containment of the virus, as well as enabling adequate treatment of infected persons in refugee situations;
- WFP: Liechtenstein will contribute 100’000 Swiss Francs to the World Food Program’s response to COVID-19 to ensure food security, basic health services and systems as well as supply chains for essential goods and services.
For a more in-depth overview of Liechtenstein's international engagement as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic, please see this April 29 article written by Dr. Katrin Eggenberger, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Justice and Culture of the Principality of Liechtenstein.
Previous Chronology of Events Related to the Coronavirus
April 27 Easing of Coronavirus-Related Restrictions
On 24 April 2020, 82 Coronavirus cases had been recorded in Liechtenstein (out of a total population of roughly 38,000). Only one case was fatal. Over two-thirds of the 82 recorded infections were updated as healed.
In light of the above baseline of infections, and parallel with the decision of the Swiss Government, Liechtenstein began an easing of self-isolation measures beginning April 27. Given that Liechtenstein has a Customs Treaty with Switzerland, allowing for a free-flowing, open border system, the ordinances of Switzerland related to the coronavirus are largely applicable to Liechtenstein. The Liechtenstein Government may, however, issue separate ordinances in relation to the Liechtenstein territory.
Liechtenstein and Swiss authorities emphasized that the easing of measures as of April 27 does not yet mean that the dangers posed by the coronavirus have been averted and that proper hygiene and distancing protocols must continue to be observed. Per the Swiss Federal Council "On 27 April, hospitals will be able to resume all medical procedures, including non-urgent procedures, and outpatient medical practices, hairdressing salons, massage practices and cosmetic studios will be allowed to reopen. DIY stores, garden centers and florists will also be allowed to reopen. The protection of the public and of staff must be assured... If the situation allows, schools for children of compulsory school age and shops will be able to reopen on 11 May. On 8 June, upper-secondary schools, vocational schools and higher education institutions, as well as museums, zoos and libraries may reopen." As it relates to protection of business staff and the public, industry associations developed procedures according to the guidelines of the Health Administration. More details as to the April 27 phased easing of coronavirus measures can be viewed here.
In Liechtenstein, in contrast to the Swiss ordinance, the government decided that as of April 27, all stores and markets that previously did not meet the criteria of being an essential business will be allowed to reopen as long as they follow strict hygiene and distancing regulations.
However, restrictions were not relaxed on entertainment and leisure facilities such as museums, movie theaters or libraries. In addition, restaurants were ordered to remmain closed but were able to offer items for pickup or delivery. Bars were also ordered to remain closed and will likely not be reopened until later in the summer. Groups of over five people were still prohibited from gathering in public spaces. Moreover, sports and fitness centers were ordered to remain closed. Schools were scheduled to start slowly transitioning back from distance learning starting 11 May, with regular classes resuming on 18 May.
In addition, the Liechtenstein Government decided that popular votes that were scheduled to take place on 7 June 2020 will be postponed until 30 August 2020.
It was also been announced that official celebrations of Liechtenstein's National Day on August 15 were cancelled. In addition, the Liechtenstein Government assumes gatherings of more than 100 people will not be able to take place until at least the end of August 2020.
On 28 February 2020, the Swiss Government issued the first coronavirus ordinance which banned large events with more than 1’000 persons and required mandatory risk assessments for smaller events. The ordinance entered into force immediately and was foreseen to be valid until 15 March 2020. A further tightening of the Swiss measures was included in an ordinance of the Liechtenstein Government issued more or less at the same time. The upcoming lifting of the measures takes place more or less in step with Switzerland, due to the fact that Liechtenstein's borders with Switzerland are open and should remain open.
On 13 March 2020, the Liechtenstein Government issued its own ordinance that banned all public and private events and prohibited for more than five people to gather in public spaces. Educational institutions, entertainment and leisure facilities, companies with services that involve physical contact such as hairdressers were closed, along with bars, discotheques, and nightclubs. Restaurants were only allowed to offer take-away or delivery services. As Liechtenstein has a limited stock of medical supplies, a permit was required for the export of medical protective equipment from Liechtenstein (except for exports to Member States of the EU and the European Free Trade Association). Construction companies and industry must observe social-distancing regulations. Various businesses and facilities which are essential for the basic needs of the people were allowed to remain open. This included grocery stores and other shops (e.g. kiosks, gas station shops) insofar as they offer food or products for daily use. Pharmacies, drugstores and shops for medical products (e.g. eye glasses, hearing aids), as well as healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and clinics also remained open.