Protesters march in Swiss cities on May Day

Around 1,000 people took to the streets in the north-western city of Basel to mark May Day. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Several thousand people joined traditional May Day protests – authorised and unauthorised - across Switzerland on Saturday despite the Covid-19 pandemic to demand social and economic justice.

This content was published on May 1, 2021 - 16:30

After months of Covid-19 restrictions, around 2,000 people took part in the traditional May 1 procession through Geneva city centre on Saturday amid heavy rain. Trade unions, left-wing party supporters, climate activists and women’s groups were present.

Elsewhere, around 1,000 people gathered in the north-western city of Basel, while 500 took to the streets in Lausanne, canton Vaud, and several hundred in St Gallen in north-eastern Switzerland. A total of 40 May Day rallies were planned on Saturday.

In the Swiss capital, Bern, several hundred people took part in an unauthorised procession in the pouring rain accompanied by police. Although the number exceeded current cantonal pandemic regulations - a maximum of 100 participants – the police kept a low profile and monitored the situation.

The obligation for participants to wear masks was generally respected, Keystone-SDA News Agency reported.

However, the police cleared Bern station of groups protesting against Swiss government Covid restrictions; many of the people were reportedly not wearing masks.

In Zurich, the police broke up an unauthorised May Day demo in the city centre. Dozens of officers, supported by vans and a helicopter, surrounded groups of demonstrators in the early afternoon. Police had written on Twitter that processions would not be tolerated.

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