Swiss government criticised for Covid-19 micromanagement

The government has announced easing of restrictions from May 11 for certain businesses. Keystone / Martial Trezzini

The president of Switzerland’s upper house of parliament has criticised the seven-member governing Federal Council of micromanagement over the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.  

This content was published on May 4, 2020 - 10:36

In an interview published in several Swiss media outlets on Monday, Hans Stöckli acknowledged that the Federal Council put the common interest first during the coronavirus crisis. However, he was not pleased with the manner in which the easing of restrictions was handled.

"The big distributors could sell books but not bookshops, grandparents are allowed to kiss their grandchildren but not babysit them, museums can open on May 11 but zoos only on June 8," he said.  

According to Stöckli, such details should not be dictated by a statutory body such as the Federal Council. They should be decided in consultation with the people concerned and decisions should be based on clear criteria, he said. 

Stöckli identified several areas for improvement: in particular, the digitalisation of parliamentary work, clarification of the procedure for the declaration of an extraordinary situation by the government and the drafting of a report by the Federal Council on this period governed by emergency law.  

The criticism comes just as parliament begins a special session, marking a new phase in the political handling of the coronavirus crisis. 

‘Out of proportion’ 

Stöckli was not the only one who had harsh words for the government. On Sunday, tourism entrepreneur Samih Sawiris described Switzerland’s response as overkill in an interview with the German-language SonntagsZeitungExternal link paper.  

"Billions of francs lost for a few hundred fewer deaths," said the Egyptian investor.   

According to him, the effort to save people under 60 from Covid-19 is out of proportion to the damage to the economy. 

"So far, there have been less than 200 deaths in Switzerland in this age group [under 60]. You're more likely to win the lottery than die of Covid-19," he said.  

On the other hand, Sawiris had praise for the cantonal government of Uri, where his luxury ski resort The Chedi Andermatt is located. Canton Uri had ordered a complete lockdown for people over 65 at the beginning of the crisis, but the measure was annulled by the federal government. Sawiris said it was a pity that this did not become a model for the whole of Switzerland as it would have allowed more businesses to remain open while still protecting high-risk groups. 

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