On 7 March 2021, a vote to ban face covering at a federal level was accepted by 51.2% of Swiss voters. Since then the government has been working on implementing the decision. This week it presented the details.
After the latest consultation on the subject the Federal Council decided on Wednesday on a maximum fine of CHF 1,000 instead of the original recommendation of CHF 10,000, which was considered excessive by some politicians.
The new proposed federal law, which has been sent to parliament, will include a number of exceptions. The face covering ban, which is defined as covering the mouth and nose, will apply to sports fans, protestors and those wearing niqabs and burkas in public spaces. Masks will be allowed at cultural events such as carnival, for health reasons (surgical masks to reduce disease spread) and for safety (motorcycle helmets).
In addition, the ban will not apply on aircraft or in places of worship, such as churches.
The referendum result in 2021 surprised many. According to some commentators success was partly due to the support of Switzerland’s muslim community.
Once the law is implemented Switzerland will join a growing list of nations banning face covering including: Austria, Denmark, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Latvia, the Netherlands, Tajikistan, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka and parts of China.