Protesters jostle in mass demonstrations against Swiss COVID-19 restrictions
The recent decline in COVID-19 cases and increasing rates of vaccination has begun to turn people and politicians in Switzerland against the COVID certificate requirement. Protests have also broken out across Switzerland against coronavirus restrictions, leading to some cases of violence.
Protests were mostly peaceful in many Swiss cities
The protests took place throughout cities in Switzerland over the weekend, with the largest gathering seeing up to 3.000 people in Rapperswil-Jona. The organisers were protesting against measures taken by the government and cantons to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the COVID certificate.
In Baden, Canton Aargau, Keystone SDA reported that the protesters had a “jostle” with a handful of counter-protesters, before being restrained by the emergency services. Other events were held in Bern and Lausanne, and despite aggressive chanting for Health Minister Alain Berset to resign, the protests remained largely peaceful.
Swiss COVID-19 certificate app crashes amid maintenance glitch
Alongside the protests, the certificate app experienced a glitch, leading to the app being “down” for an hour last Friday, causing disruption to businesses trying to capitalise on the Friday night rush. The Swiss Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunication said the outage was caused by maintenance work in the European Union and that the certificate will continue to work in future.
Over the last week, politicians in the Swiss government have also started to question the most extreme measures, asking whether the COVID certificate requirement is necessary while cases are falling and admissions to hospitals are easing. Once a strong advocate for the measures, National Councillor Franziska Roth now says that “such a serious encroachment on fundamental rights is no longer desirable.”
Political parties in Switzerland rethink COVID policy
Once the policy of just the Swiss People’s Party and the Centre party (Die Mitte), more and more political leaders are starting to turn against some of the COVID laws. Green Party Councillor Katharina Prelicz-Huber said that the certificate laws raise “fundamental rights concerns” as unvaccinated people on social security may not be able to afford frequent tests, leading them to be excluded from education and social life.
Several figures within the National Council have called on the executive brand to revise the rules before the pivotal COVID-19 laws are put to a referendum in November. In response, a spokesperson for the Federal Council acknowledged that the COVID situation was getting better and would update the public as soon as possible.