Haircuts, massages and shopping for garden supplies topped the agenda for Swiss on Monday as the country slowly started easing restrictions on public life imposed in March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Queues formed in front of garden centres as people battling cabin fever emerged from six weeks of staying at home at the government's urging.
"I think it is about time. We have to live our lives, so I think it is important that we keep doing our activities and contact with people is so important, even in a queue like that," shopper Christiane Ansermet said as she waited to enter the Schillinger garden centre in the town of Gland on Lake Geneva.
Anne Schilliger, owner of the garden centre, said her business had been shut since March 17, forced to throw away a quarter of its annual production and losing 15% of turnover.
"So this is a lot for us and it is going to be difficult to get through this," she said, striking a downbeat tone echoed by other small business owners.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
More than 1,350 people in Switzerland have died of the COVID-19 respiratory illness the coronavirus causes. The number of people with positive tests is nearing 30,000.
Only grocery stores, chemists and other "essential" businesses have been allowed to open during the lockdown.
"A COMPLICATED YEAR"
Hospitals could again perform elective surgeries on Monday, while dental surgeries, hairdressers, massage parlours and beauty salons also reopened.
Most shops, schools and food markets will follow suit from May 11. In a third stage, vocational schools and universities are set to reopen from June 8, provided there is no significant increase in COVID-19 cases.
"The number of new cases is continuing to decline, which is certainly good news on the first day we are starting to relax the measures," Daniel Koch, the official leading Switzerland's response to the coronavirus outbreak, told reporters in Bern.
Leornard Brazzola, a dentist in Lausanne, said patients have to pay out of pocket for many treatments so were likely to postpone or cancel some non-essential dental work.
"We expect that everybody will be impacted by this crisis and that we will suffer the consequences for several months," he said. "This is going to be a complicated year."
His practice allows just one patient into the office at a time. It removed magazines from the waiting room and spaced chairs two metres apart.
Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said last week that the shutdown was costing 5 billion Swiss francs ($5.14 billion) per week in lost output.
Facing the sharpest economic slump in nearly half a century, the government has launched its biggest economic aid package ever, providing 62 billion francs for businesses.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.