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Switzerland to vote on whether or not to maintain Covid restrictions as cases rise

Voters will have their say on changes to a previous Covid law, which were passed by the Swiss Parliament last March. According to a document from the Federal Council (Federal Government of Switzerland), Parliament amended the law to “extend financial assistance to people who could not be supported previously or not enough”, as well as “to improve case finding contacts and increase testing capacity. “
It also enacted the legal basis for the establishment of the “Covid certificate” – or health card – “to facilitate travel abroad and allow the holding of certain events”, according to the Federal Council.

Opponents believe that existing laws are “sufficient to protect the Swiss from Covid-19 or other infectious diseases,” according to the LoiCovid-Non committee, which includes several groups opposed to the law. They also argue that the Covid law discriminates against the unvaccinated and would lead to an “unprecedented divide in Swiss society”.

Last month, a spokeswoman for the Friends of the Constitution committee, which is part of LoiCovid-Non, called Switzerland’s health pass “apartheid for health.” The certificate establishes an obligation to be vaccinated, since the tests are now paid, argued Cailler. “We are trying to coerce the population through their wallet,” she said.

Although most Swiss political movements still support the law, the right-wing populist party (UDC), the country’s leading political force, has expressed support for the “No” campaign in the referendum.

The latest wave hit Switzerland hard with a seven-day moving average of more than 5,000 cases per day last week out of a population of 8 million. According to the Swiss government’s Covid platform, 75,843 new cases had been detected in the country in the past 14 days as of Thursday, a number approaching the peak of infections of last year.

This is the second time in less than six months that the Swiss have to vote on health measures. In June, citizens supported the Covid 2020 law with 60.2% of the vote in a first referendum.

Navigating the pandemic and its legal updates has been a challenge for the Confederation’s system of direct democracy, in which all decisions made at federal, cantonal or municipal level can then be called into question by voters.

As is usually the case, three laws will be put to the vote on Sunday: the Covid law, an initiative “for strong nursing” and an initiative on the mode of selection of federal judges.


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