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"Impfluencer" vouchers have no legal basis, top law academic says

"Impfluencer" vouchers have no legal basis, top law academic says

"Impfluencer" vouchers have no legal basis, top law academic says

A top Swiss law professor has criticised the Federal Council’s plan to introduce rewards for those who convince unvaccinated people to take the COVID-19 immunisation (so-called "Impfluencers"), stating that the measure has no correct legal basis. 

Government plans to give 50 Swiss francs to "Impfluencers"

The Swiss government has announced plans to give vouchers worth 50 Swiss francs to anyone who convinces another person to get vaccinated against COVID-19 from October 1. While Health Minister Alain Berset has already acknowledged that the plan is “unconventional,” law professor Felix Uhlmann, who is an expert in constitutional and administrative law at the University of Zurich, has gone even further, describing the policy as “illegal." 

Representatives of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) refer to Article 9 of the Epidemics Act to defend the policy, which uses the clause that allows the government to use "the possibilities of preventing [epidemics] and combating them." For Uhlmann, Article 9 is no sound legal justification. The lawyer has stressed that he “simply cannot find a viable legal basis” for the policy.

Reference to Article 9 not enough to justify spending

According to Uhlmann, Article 9 does not offer a strong enough connection between vaccine information campaigns and the issuing of financial incentives. Though he recognises that local authorities are allowed to give gifts and incentives from time to time, he believes that "Impfluencer vouchers" are a huge cost to have to foot. 

"Impfluencer vouchers could potentially go to more than 775.000 people, which could cost 38 million Swiss francs," explained Uhlmann. “With such a high expenditure, a clear legal basis is imperative.” Uhlmann is not alone in his attitude, with constitutional law Professor Eva Maria Belser supporting his argument. Belser, who works for the University of Fribourg, stated, “The federal constitution clearly stipulates that all government action must be based on legal principles.”

Emily Proctor

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Emily Proctor

Emily studied International Relations and Chinese, and is now undertaking Master's degree in International Security. She enjoys writing, cooking, and playing piano.

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