Swiss restaurants call for a separate zone for unvaccinated diners

Swiss restaurants call for a separate zone for unvaccinated diners

The national broadcaster in Switzerland, SRF, has announced that unvaccinated and vaccinated staff will be separated from each other in their in-house restaurant. Now, more Swiss restaurants are asking the government to expand the practice to entice more customers.

SRF separates workers by COVID vaccination or test status

SRF announced plans to separate unvaccinated and vaccinated or tested people in three of its staff restaurants in Zurich and Bern. Under current rules, company canteens are exempt from the certificate requirement for restaurants but have to enforce strict rules around table size and mask-wearing. Head of Media Relations at SRF, Andrea Wenger, said the change was mainly to free up space and encourage “personal encounters and mutual exchange.”

The new certificate zone will be open to all workers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, or have tested negative. The rules in this zone will be the same as public restaurants. For those who are not vaccinated or tested, another, more regulated area will be available.

Wenger noted that the company still offered free tests to all employees, meaning that everyone can use the new zone. Other international companies, such as Credit Suisse, the prominent Swiss bank, and Swiss Federal Railways, have acknowledged the change and said they will be examining the new rules closely. 

Swiss restaurants call for separate zones to be allowed in all dining areas

The new plan has been criticised by the Swiss Employees' Association Angestellte Schweiz, whose spokesperson Hansjörg Schmid said dividing staff in this way was “tricky.” He claimed that employees who do not eat in the certificate zone "could be discriminated against by their colleagues," and that the rules would have a negative impact on cooperation.

After the announcement on Tuesday, restaurant associations across the country called on the government to permit the practice in all public restaurants. GastroSuisse spokesperson Daniela Kimmich said the change would be highly beneficial to restaurant owners as it would allow all customers to sit inside. She called for the idea to be extended to all restaurants, so that all workers and customers could have the chance to have a "hot meal" during the winter, without having to stay outside.

However, National Councillor Alois Gmür poured cold water over the idea, making the case that most landlords could not afford to set up different zones for different customers. He said the creation of multiple zones would be too much for most restaurants, but conceded that "it is an injustice that a certificate is required in all restaurants, but not in company canteens."

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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