Coronavirus: Expansion of emergency overnight accommodation and emergency accommodation, and preservation of harm-reduction offers

07/04/2020 (14:00)
Press release

The current situation relating to coronavirus is also impacting on accommodation for homeless people. The Department for the Economy, Social Affairs and the Environment [Departement für Wirtschaft, Soziales und Umwelt] and the Department of Health Basel-Stadt have therefore provided emergency accommodation for various target groups. Supported emergency accommodation is available during the quarantine period for socially disadvantaged people who have become infected with coronavirus. Rental of the Hotel du Commerce has also made it possible to extend emergency overnight accommodation with a 24-hour service.

In view of the accelerated spread of coronavirus, the Federal Council declared an “extraordinary situation” on 16 March 2020 in accordance with the Epidemic Diseases Act, and further stepped up measures to protect the population. Public administration and social care facilities are supposed to remain open, but they must adhere to the recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health on distancing and hygiene. This also means changes to accommodation for homeless people.

It is important to the Government that the required offers are available to socially disadvantaged people, in particular homeless people who belong to vulnerable risk groups, even in this extraordinary situation. Food is still given out by various institutions in the form of takeaways, and people have the opportunity to shower and wash their clothes. The soup kitchen [Gassenküche] has been able to give out meals in larger premises, and the points of contact and refuges for drug addicts [Kontakt- und Anlaufstellen (K+A)] have been correspondingly expanded at Riehenring.

The occupancy rate in both emergency overnight accommodation facilities had to be halved. The Social Welfare Department [Sozialhilfe] has therefore rented the Hotel du Commerce to provide a 24-hour solution for vulnerable people from the risk group. Suitable space for ill people in self-quarantine can also be provided there. The exclusive use of the Hotel du Commerce means that the Federal Government regulations can be followed. People are referred to the accommodation by the Social Welfare Department Basel-Stadt.

In addition, specific emergency accommodation with care is being made available to vulnerable people who are infected with coronavirus, do not require hospital treatment but are unable to quarantine themselves due to homelessness or inadequate accommodation. The addictions department is responsible for coordinating the care of these people.