UPDATE 1-Swiss require negative virus test for entry from high-risk areas

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ZURICH, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Switzerland will require negative coronavirus tests from people entering the country from high-risk areas as of Feb. 8, the government said on Wednesday.

It also proposed doubling to 5 billion Swiss francs ($5.63 billion) the fund financed by the federal and cantonal governments to support businesses hit hard by restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

It also said in a statement after a cabinet meeting it was ready to reactivate a scheme providing state guarantees for bank loans to affected companies, should the credit market deteriorate.

It extended unemployment benefits by three months, a move that would cost around 500 million francs, and said the federal government would finance around 6 billion francs in extra spending to cover compensation for workers on shortened working hours.

"It's clear that people without work in this situation hardly have a chance to find a new position," Swiss President Guy Parmelin said. "With the decision from today, the federal government is clearing the way for about 8 billion francs for short-time work and hardship cases. Not everything is perfect, but we're working on it."

Switzerland this month tightened measures to tackle new variants of the COVID-19 virus spreading across the country while stopping short of the full lockdown neighboring countries have adopted to choke off the pandemic.

Health authorities have reported https://www.covid19.admin.ch/en/overview?ovTime=total more than 515,000 cases and around 8,500 deaths in Switzerland and neighboring Liechtenstein since the pandemic broke out in February 2020.

($1 = 0.8887 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by John Miller and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi)

01/27/2021 13:14

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