Plans presented to boost use of Covid certificate in Switzerland

The Covid-19 certificate might become necessary in everyday life for many people in Switzerland. Keystone/Valentin Flauraud

The government has proposed measures to extend the use of Covid-19 certificates to avoid a potential overburdening of Swiss hospitals.

This content was published on August 25, 2021 - 17:36

Interior Minister Alain Berset said a series of measures, including limiting access to indoors areas of restaurants as well sports and culture institutions, would be put to consultation among the 26 cantonal governments, employers’ organisations and trade unions.

As part of the package, the national government also wants to clarify the role of the certificate at the workplace.

Berset said the current situation was uncertain, and that there was a risk that things could get out of hand quickly. The return from holidays, the suspension of the mandatory work-from-home rule, a relatively low vaccination rate and the more contagious Delta variant of Covid had precipitated developments, he added.

He said the government had to take precautions now as the implementation of new restrictions would only begin to have an effect with a delay of one month.

“It is a preventive move, and nobody knows whether or when the suggested measures will be necessary,” said Berset at a news conference on Wednesday.

He said the aim was to avoid new drastic restrictions for business and society with consequences of a lockdown experienced last year.

“We have to try to prevent overloading our hospitals and ensure access for all citizens to the health services,” he said.

Restrict free testing

The government also decided to limit the free testing for Covid as of the beginning of October. However, it leaves a number of exemptions, notably for people under the age of 16, people with Covid symptoms or for regular mass testing at the workplace.

A majority of the cantonal governments, trade unions and employers organisations had come out in favour of charging people for the tests, he said.

The government announcements prompted mixed reaction. Most political parties and the main business organisations welcomed the decisions. But the right-wing Swiss People Party and the organisation representing the restaurant sector dismissed them as unfair and dangerous.

Opponents of the government’s anti-Covid policy have forced a nationwide vote in November about the introduction of the certificate.

Jabs for expat Swiss

In another development, expat Swiss and cross-border workers and their families will be able to benefit from free anti-Covid vaccinations.

Until now only people living in Switzerland were eligible for the jabs.

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad which represents the interest of the registered 776,000 expats around the globe, had repeatedly demanded equal access to vaccines.

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