Country reports


Expert authors: Christoph Weckerle
Last update: April 22nd

In Switzerland, as in many countries around the world, the cultural sector is very much affected by the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the measures taken by the authorities to contain it. On March 20th, the Federal Council approved a series of measures to cushion the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Federal Council has approved a package of measures amounting to CHF 280 million for the cultural sector.

General measures

  • Up to two-third supplement to employees wages when a temporary reduction of working hours is needed.
  • Liquidity support for companies: The Federal Council will implement a guarantee program to ensure that SMEs (individual companies, partnerships, legal entities) receive bridging loans from the banks of CHF 20 billion.
  • Deferred payment of social security contributions: The companies affected by the crisis can be granted a temporary, interest-free deferral of payments for social security contributions.
  • Legal standstill according to the Federal Law on Debt Collection and Bankruptcy (SchkG): From March 19 to April 4, 2020, debtors may not be operated throughout Switzerland.

Cultural sector specific measures

  • Emergency aid for non-profit cultural enterprises (CHF 100 million) and cultural workers (CHF 25 million) – these can apply for a repayable interest-free loan as emergency aid in 2020. The loans amount to a maximum of 30 percent of the company’s/individuals earnings in accordance with the last revised annual financial statements.
  • Loss compensation for profit and non-profit cultural enterprises and cultural workers (CHF 145 million): Cultural companies who have suffered economic damage as a result of the cancellation or postponement of events or projects can apply for compensation. The default compensation covers a maximum of 80 percent of the financial loss.
  • Financial support for amateur arts and culture associations (CHF 10 million).

Cultural institutes can apply for these measures until May 20th. The FOC and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, together with the cantons and cultural organisations (in particular Suisseculture Sociale), will continuously monitor developments until this time, in order to assess the situation on behalf of the Federal Council and consider extending the period of validity of the ordinance.

Measures on city and/or regional level

There are many examples of emergency aid for self-employed persons and micro-enterprises of cities. The city of Zurich offers unbureaucratic, rapid assistance. The help goes to all those who live in Zurich and have had to close their business due to the corona virus or have lost many orders.

Micro-entrepreneurs may submit an application for emergency aid on a provisional basis until Thursday April 30th. This also applies to self-employed persons who have already benefited from emergency financial assistance: If they continue to meet the eligibility criteria, they can submit an application for a second contribution.

The emergency aid amounts to a flat-rate of CHF 2500 per applicant. Emergency aid is intended to bridge a financial emergency until other financial means are available.