On 8 September 2021, the Swiss government decided to extend the use of Covid certificates. From Monday 13 September 2021, a certificate will be required to enter bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas, theatres and pools, a system already operating in numerous countries, such as Italy.
The decision comes on a day when the health authorities announced the highest number of new daily cases in several months (3,550).
As we head towards winter, the government is concerned the number of infections will rise again and put further pressure on the health system. As the number of Covid patients rises, treatment of some non-Covid patients is being put on hold and patients are being moved around to find hospital places for them, said Alain Berset, Switzerland’s health minister.
In an interview on RTS, the health minister expressed a sense of frustration at the high number of unvaccinated people in Switzerland. The overwhelming majority of Covid-19 patients in hospital are unvaccinated. Given this reality, Berset said that the certificate is the solution to getting back our liberties. It makes it possible for events and activities to go ahead that would otherwise be too risky. The use of the certificate means people will only come into contact with others who only have a low risk of being infectious.
Those in establishments or at events without a certificate where one is required can be fined CHF 100. Establishments and event organisers that don’t follow the rules can be fined and closed down.
Currently, 2.5 million people over the age of 12 in Switzerland remain unvaccinated. Switzerland currently has one of the lowest rates of vaccination and one of the highest rates of new infections in Europe.
52% of Switzerland is fully vaccinated compared to 59% across the EU, 64% in the UK, 62% in France, 61% in Germany and 62% in Italy. In western Europe, only the UK has a higher rate of new cases than Switzerland.
In addition to extending the use of Covid certificates the government is looking at plans to require unvaccinated people to test and quarantine when returning to or entering Switzerland. It plans to announce its decision on 14 September 2021 ahead of the autumn holidays.
Spontaneous protests took place in Bern in response to the decision, according to RTS. Some of those objecting see the move as a way to make vaccination compulsory via the back door.