No oom-pah bands this Christmas, please. We're Swiss

FILE PHOTO: A local brass band plays some tunes behind riders before the sixth stage of the Tour de Suisse cycling race in Wittnau June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) - Forget the oom-pah brass bands and buy gifts early - with a predrafted list to keep shopping trips efficient -- this COVID-19 Christmas season, Swiss health authorities advised the public on Friday.

Bands usually blast out festively at this time of year but the Federal Office of Public Health advised against inviting them to parties as the country battles to keep coronavirus in check.

"Singing together and playing wind instruments can increase the risk of infection. Listen to Christmas music on your stereo instead," the agency said in "Tips for the Holidays" posted online.

"It is better to greet others from a distance and to forego hugs and kisses," the office added, in advice to a population not generally known for being over-emotional.

Current Swiss guidelines already limit gathering of friends and family to 10 people, but parties should not get too cosy.

It suggested opening the windows every hour or two for 5-10 minutes, adding: "It is simplest if one person is in charge of ventilation."

It recommended party-goes consider wearing masks before and after eating while staying at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) apart.

"Feel sick? Definitely stay home," it advised.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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