Swiss look set to approve Covid restrictions as infections rise

Switzerland, school girl, covid-19, mask wearing
A school pupil wears a face mask (via PA)

Swiss voters appeared set to approve by a clear margin legislation that would introduce a special Covid-19 certificate allowing only people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative attend public events and gatherings.

A projection by the gfs.bern polling agency for public broadcaster SRF after voting ended on Sunday showed the measure, which is already in place, winning the backing of 63% of those who turned out. The referendum offered a relatively rare bellwether of public opinion specifically on the issue of government policy on fighting the coronavirus in Europe, currently the global epicentre of the pandemic.

The vote on the country’s “Covid-19 law”, which has unlocked billions of Swiss francs in aid for workers and businesses hit by the pandemic, came as Switzerland — like many other nations in Europe — faces a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

The Swiss federal government, unlike others, hasn’t responded with new restrictions. Analysts said it didn’t want to stir up more opposition to its anti-Covid-19 policies before they faced Sunday’s test at the ballot box — but that if the Swiss give a thumbs-up, the government may well ratchet up its anti-Covid efforts.

Rejection of the legislation would end the restrictions, as well as the payouts. In recent weeks, opponents have raised large sums for their campaign and drawn support from abroad.

On Tuesday, Swiss health authorities warned of a rising “fifth wave” in the rich Alpine country, where vaccination rates are roughly in line with those of its hard-hit neighbours Austria and Germany, at about two-thirds of the population. Infection rates have soared in recent weeks.

The seven-day average case count in Switzerland shot up to more than 5,200 per day from mid-October to mid-November, a more than five-fold increase — with an upward curve similar to those in neighbouring Germany and Austria.

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