Launching a vote to repeal a Swiss law requires 50,000 voter signatures be collected within 100 days. A group opposed to a Swiss law allowing the issuance of voluntary Covid certificates gathered more than 187,000 signatures in 4 weeks, setting a new record, according to 20 Minutes.
Collecting as many as 187,433 signatures in the space of 4 weeks has never been done before, according to one of the vote organisers.
Switzerland, like much of the world, has launched a voluntary system that provides people who have been tested or vaccinated against Covid-19 with forgery-proof evidence of their status. These Covid-19 certificates, which come in paper and digital formats, can be invaluable for people travelling to other countries as well for gaining entry into private venues that decide to restrict entry to those who pose a lower risk of infecting others with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
In Switzerland, vaccination is now available to everyone 12 years old or more and is free of charge. In addition, those who decide not to get vaccinated can still choose to get a Covid certificate with a negative test.
The Federal Council had already tentatively scheduled a referendum on the subject for 28 November 2021, which means the vote will occur before the end of the year. The next step is for the Federal Chancellery to validate the signatures, which with so many signatures, should pose no hurdle.
The initiative aims to make Switzerland’s Covid certificates illegal.
Organisers of the vote, which include a large number of people from the youth chapter of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP), have vociferously criticised Switzerland’s Covid certificates, describing them as discriminatory and likening them to the worst periods of Stalinism.
Others see the certificates as a pragmatic compromise. If other countries require proof of health status to enter then the certificates make travel possible. In addition, many Swiss event organisers and nightclub owners support the certificates because they allow them to open without the risk of creating spreader events.
This upcoming vote is another reminder of how the Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the difficult question of where to draw the line between individual freedoms that risk spreading disease and the rights of those who would prefer not to be exposed to it.