Geneva's landmark fountain turned off over pandemic

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Like landmarks in other cities, the Jet d'Eau is usually lit up in varying colours in the evening
Like landmarks in other cities, the Jet d'Eau is usually lit up in varying colours in the evening

Geneva's famous Jet d'Eau fountain, which spouts water over a hundred metres into the air, is to remain switched off to signal the need for people to observe virus restrictions, authorities said Wednesday.

The Lake Geneva landmark had been due to be turned back on this week after annual maintenance work, but local officials have decided it is better to leave it off for now.

The Geneva cantonal government said in a statement that it, "in light of the current health situation in Switzerland and Geneva linked to the Covid-19 pandemic," it had decided to shut down the landmark.

By leaving the majestic fountain, which usually attracts large numbers of tourists, switched off, authorities said they hoped to "send a new signal to the population" that outings and interactions needed to be restricted as far as possible. 

The canton also shut down the Jet d'Eau during the 83 days of partial confinement in Switzerland when the first wave of the pandemic hit the country in the spring.

The fountain, which shoots water 140 metres (460 feet) into the air at 200 kilometres an hour before allowing it to cascade down into Lake Geneva, has towered visibly over the centre of the city virtually every day since 1891.

It is usually only shut down by strong winds or freezing temperatures. 

Like some landmarks in other cities, such as the Empire State Building in New York it is usually lit up in varying colours in the evening.

Switzerland emerged relatively unscathed from the first wave of the pandemic.

But it has been hard-hit by the second wave, and Geneva, which is struggling with saturated hospitals, has shuttered all restaurants, bars and non-essential shops in a bid to stem the surging numbers of cases and deaths.

nl/vog/wdb