© Reuters. The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Zurich
By Cecile Mantovani and Denis Balibouse
GLAND / LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – Haircuts, massages and grocery shopping were high on the Swiss agenda on Monday as the country slowly began to loosen the restrictions on public life imposed in March to spread the novel corona virus to slow down.
Queues formed in front of garden centers when people fighting cabin fever stayed at home for six weeks at government insistence.
"I think it's time. We have to live our lives, so I think it is important that we continue our activities and that contact with people is so important, even in such a queue," said buyer Christiane Ansermet while she waited to enter the Schillinger garden center in the city of Gland on Lake Geneva.
Anne Schilliger, owner of the garden center, said her store had been closed since March 17, forced to throw away a quarter of its annual production and lose 15% of sales.
"This is a lot for us and it will be difficult to overcome," she said, striking a low tone that was repeated by other small business owners.
In Switzerland, more than 1,350 people have died from the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. The number of people with positive tests is approaching 30,000 https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/situation-schweiz- and-international.html.
Only grocery stores, pharmacies and other "important" shops were allowed to open during the ban.
"A COMPLICATED YEAR"
Hospitals were again able to perform election operations on Monday, while dental practices, hairdressers, massage parlors and beauty parlors were also reopened.
Most shops, schools and grocery stores will follow suit from May 11th. In a third phase, vocational schools and universities are to be reopened from June 8 unless the COVID-19 cases increase significantly.
"The number of new cases continues to decrease, which is certainly good news on the first day that we start to relax the measures," Daniel Koch, the officially leading Swiss response to the outbreak of the coronavirus, told reporters in Bern.
Leornard Brazzola, a dentist in Lausanne, said patients have to pay for many out-of-pocket treatments, so they would likely postpone or discontinue some non-essential dental work.
"We expect everyone to be affected by this crisis and that we will suffer the consequences for several months," he said. "It's going to be a complicated year."
In his practice only one patient can go to the office at a time. It removed magazines from the waiting room and placed chairs two meters apart.
Finance minister Ueli Maurer said last week that the shutdown cost 5 billion Swiss francs ($ 5.14 billion) a week in lost production.
With the worst economic slump in nearly half a century, the government launched its largest economic aid package to date, providing CHF 62 billion to businesses.