Swiss cantons call for extended use of COVID certificates
Four Swiss counties (cantons) have called for a national approach to mandatory COVID-19 certificates as the number of new coronavirus cases remains high.
Swiss cantons call for uniform approach to coronavirus
The health directors of Basel Stadt, Aargau, St. Gallen and Zug have called on the government to adopt uniform rules for certificate requirements at the weekly coronavirus briefing today. The move comes amid a tense situation around the number of COVID-19 cases in Switzerland. After a peak of infections last week, average case numbers are still totalling around 2.000 per day, with 20 Minutes reporting that hospitals are “back in the fight”.
Under the current system, people in Switzerland are able to use some form of ID and a paper certificate to confirm they have been tested, vaccinated or are recovering from COVID-19, or use the Covid Cert app. Certificate requirements are commonly used for travel through Swiss airports and in some public settings. It is hoped by many cantons that a new, uniform system will be expanded to include restaurants, cafes and bars.
"We would be happy if the Federal Council were to include an extension of the certificate requirement in the consultation this week,” said Lukas Engelberger, Health Director for Canton Basel Stadt. He noted that short of full lockdowns, certificate requirements will provide sufficient “braking distance” to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
Health Director for Aargau Jean-Pierre Gallati echoed the comments, asking the government to adopt uniform rules around certificates, or else risk an incoherent set of restrictions. St. Gallen’s cantonal management team went one step further, saying that admission to public places should be linked to the current vaccination / test / recovery certificate, if there are significant threats to the healthcare system.
Cantonal COVID-19 restrictions “ineffective” in Switzerland
Although some cantons have begun to make certificates mandatory in certain settings, they say that the government has to make a coherent policy for all regions. General Secretary to the Swiss Health Directors' Conference Michael Jordi, when speaking to 20 minutes, said that lessons from the second wave last autumn show that restrictions issued by cantons alone “did not prove effective” in stopping the rise in infections.
Last autumn, each canton was able to institute its own COVID restrictions, such as a curfew for the purchase of alcohol in Canton Vaud and different rules regarding restaurant bookings in Canton Zurich, and Bern. Jordi noted that cantonal restrictions made sense if case numbers vary by region, but the current situation sees case numbers developing in all parts of Switzerland.
Suggested plans have angered restaurant owners
While the plans for continuing and expanding COVID certificates are underway, many within the restaurant business are angry at the possibility of new restrictions. “It cannot be, that the new measures carried out should be shouldered on the backs of restaurant owners,” said Ruedi Stöckli, district president of Gastro Zentralschweiz.
He said that the industry does not want a two-class system for the vaccinated and unvaccinated, and that it has already been impacted enough by previous restrictions. Speaking about the technical aspect of the plans, he said, "In my opinion, a certificate cannot be implemented because the vast majority of [restaurants] simply do not have the capacity."
Stöckli emphasised that the industry needs all the guests it can get and that if restrictions were to return, there would have to be a Swiss-wide solution "and not a patchwork quilt." He concluded that, "Otherwise, guests will switch to the restaurants that can be visited without a certificate."