Monday, August 16, 2021
On August 10, the Liechtenstein Government announced the further easing of COVID-19-related restrictions. As of August 16, public events may encompass over 1000 people, but organizers must still maintain safety measures including social distancing. If social distancing cannot be maintained, masks are required. Organizers and businesses can also make use of COVID-19 certificates, which allow for those who have been fully vaccinated, tested or have recovered from COVID-19 to participate with reduced protection measures. Liechtenstein will maintain its July 5 announcement that people will no longer be required to wear masks in public except on public transportation. Work places must still maintain spacing of 1.5 meters among employees. Masks will be required if such distancing is not possible. Furthermore, the limit of no more than 50 people at private/family gatherings is lifted. In addition, restaurants no longer have limits on the number of patrons, however a distance of 1.5 meters must still be maintained between unrelated groups of patrons. Restaurants are also no longer required to have guests sit while eating.
Compulsory Wearing of Masks on All Public Transportation
Beginning 6 July 2020 the wearing of a mask is compulsory on all public transport in Liechtenstein and Switzerland in order to mitigate infections.
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
In May and June, the Liechtenstein Government announced the easing of certain COVID-19-related restrictions. Restaurants were able to serve guests both indoors and outdoor (seated only - maximum 6 people per table, with 1.5 meters separation between tables). Establishments with takeaway services could continue service. School cafeterias, as well as business cantinas and hotel restaurants servicing guests could also open their outdoor areas.
Attendance at public events of up to 300 people indoors (seated only with no consumption of food or drink, with at least one empty seat between people) and 300 people outdoors were allowed. Precautions at all public gatherings should include the wearing of masks. Private gatherings of family and friends were allowed up to 50 people for both indoor and outdoor gatherings.
The Government also announced a broadening of COVID-19 testing in schools and businesses to help mitigate the spread of the virus, as well as a graduated system of vaccine applications through online registration.
On March 23, the Liechtenstein Government announced that certain restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will be eased. Beginning March 29, up to 25 people were allowed to gather in outdoor public areas. In addition, family and friends were allowed gather indoors in groups of up to 10 people, up from five announced in February. Public events of up to 10 people continued to be allowed, but the serving of food or drink was prohibited. Public establishments in the areas of culture, entertainment, leisure and sports, allowed to reopen in February, continued to be open. Bars, nightclubs and dance clubs, as well as casinos will remain closed. Restaurants remained closed but were allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services. School cafeterias, as well as business cantinas and hotel restaurants servicing guests were not affected. For all gatherings and establishments, strict protective procedures must be maintained. This also included maintaining social distances of at least 1.5 meters for people who do not belong in the same household, as well as the wearing of masks in all public areas.
December-February "Winter Hibernation"
On January 15 the Liechtenstein Government announced an extension and tightening of its "Winter Hibernation" measures, which began on December 20, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As of January 18 and through February 28, private gatherings were not allowed to exceed five people. Gatherings in public areas could also not exceed five people and masks remained required if a distance of 1.5 meters could be maintained. In addition, masks became required at schools for students 12 years of age and older. Masks became required at all work places where more than one person is present in a room or vehicle. The Government recommends that when possible, working from home is the best option. Other measures which began December 20 remained in place, including the prohibition of practically all forms of events and gatherings. Cultural, entertainment, as well as indoor sporting venues remained closed during the period. Exceptions were be given to official governmental meetings of up to 50 people, religious gatherings and funerals. The closures also applied to all gastronomic establishments, such as restaurants, bars and dance clubs. Restaurants offering delivery and takeaway food, school cafeterias, as well as business cantinas were not affected. All shopping establishments were allowed to remain open, as well as businesses offering childcare, hair salons, massage and cosmetic studios.
November 30, 2020 Lifting of Temporary Measures
As of November 30, 2020 Liechtenstein lifted its temporary, required closures of restaurants invoked in October. Restaurants and bars could serve guests for tables of up to six people with tables for various groups distanced by 1.5 meters, along with required seating for any food consumption. All restaurant and bar personnel are required wear masks and all such establishments had to close by 11:00pm and not open until 6:00am. The closures of dance halls and night clubs was maintained. Requirements, instituted on November 4, related to both private and public gatherings remained in place as described below.
On November 10, in light of rising levels of COVID-19 infections, the Liechtenstein Government extended measures taken in October to mitigate the spread of the virus through November 29. This included measures implemented on October 21 and 24, respectively that the wearing of masks are required inside all public buildings and the temporary closing of restaurants, bars and night clubs. Eating and drinking at public events is also prohibited. Since November 4, private events that have not developed protective procedures are only allowed for up to 10 people. Larger private events that have developed protective procedures must fulfill the same requirements as large public events, including a minimum social distancing of 1.5 meters and the wearing of masks when indoors. The consumption of food or beverages at large private events is prohibited.
June 26, 2020 Easing of Coronavirus-Related Restrictions
On 26 June, the Liechtenstein Government announced the further easing of coronavirus-related restrictions. Beginning 3 July events of people up to 1000 will be allowed. Organizers of events must develop and put in place protective procedures allowing for proper social distancing. As before, all publicly accessible establishments and business, as well as events, must continue to take protective measures. Central is hand hygiene and social distancing. Starting 26 June, the seated-only requirements for bars and restaurants will be lifted. In addition, the minimum required social distance standard will go from 2 meters apart to 1.5 meters. This minimum distance can be shortened if a mask is worn or if a separating partition is available. For events with fixed seating, such as concert venues or movie theaters, patrons must be separated by one seat. As masks can significantly reduce infection rates, the Government (as of 6 July 2020) requires the wearing of masks while using public transportation.
20 May, 2020 Easing of Coronavirus-Related Restrictions
On 20 May, the Liechtenstein Government announced that starting 6 June all public and private events may include up to 300 people. Organizers of events must develop and put in place protective procedures allowing for proper social distancing. Private events, such as family gatherings, will not require the development of protective procedures. In addition, all entertainment and leisure venues may reopen, to which the same distancing rules apply. As of 6 June, camping sites, as well as tourist attractions may also be opened. All entertainment and leisure venues, such as theaters, concert halls, theater, and casinos may open, as well as public swimming pools and wellness spas. For all establishments, protective measures must be taken. For restaurants and bars, as of 6 June the limit of four people at a table will be lifted. However, as before, groups seated at tables must be separated by 2 meters or by a partition from other groups or patrons. Discos and nightclubs may also open, however, they will be required to develop and put in place protective procedures allowing for proper social distancing and will be limited to 100 occupants.
May 15 and 18, 2020 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.
April 27, 2020 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.