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Over 15.000 fines issued since start of COVID rules in Switzerland

Over 15.000 fines issued since start of COVID rules in Switzerland

According to new data, Swiss police have handed out more than 15.000 COVID-19 related fines since the start of the pandemic, despite police using the measure as a “last resort.”

Swiss police avoid criminal charges for COVID violations

The Swiss police have faced many issues since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020; from managing large protests to tackling non-compliance with coronavirus restrictions, the police have had their hands full trying to do their job at this difficult time.

Fines are just one of the tools at the police’s disposal, and they are often avoided unless there is really no other way to resolve compliance issues. Cantons also stress that the fines should be used only as a last resort. Despite this, the police have issued more than 15.000 COVID-19 fines since the start of the pandemic.

The cost of the fines differs between cantons, too. While there are some nationwide COVID-19 fines, such as the ones relating to international travellers, many other breaches of health regulations are levied at a cantonal level, so the severity of any fine issued can depend entirely on the location in which it was ordered.

Switzerland missing data for some cantons

The new figures, which are part of a national survey by the Swiss newspaper Blick, do not show the full picture. No data is available for the cantons of Bern and Vaud, while Basel Land has only released data for 2020 so far. There are also a further 745 criminal proceedings that are currently pending across the country.

Many of the fines can be traced back to several specific instances in the pandemic where a large number of fines were issued for an event. For example, the St. Gallen public prosecutor issued 27 fines for attendees of an event run by coronavirus sceptics in the region, who broke the COVID-19 rules, as well as penalising the event’s hosts and organisers.

Some cantons are a little more heavy-handed than others when it comes to issuing fines, though. Canton Uri has only issued nine fines since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland, while Geneva has issued the most at over 6.000.

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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