It will soon be illegal to cover faces in public in Switzerland after the federal parliament voted in favour of a ban, reported RTS.
With 151 versus 29 votes, parliament accepted new laws drafted in response to a successful vote known as the anti-burka referendum. On 7 March 2021, a vote to ban face covering was accepted by 51.2% of Swiss voters.
The legal changes have now been approved by both parliament and Switzerland’s upper house. Fines up to a maximum CHF 1,000 will be possible once the law is brought into force.
A number of exceptions are allowed under the new rules, in particular covering faces in planes, consulats and places of worship. Exceptions related to necessity will also be allowed, such as face masks to protect against the cold when skiing and medical masks.
In some situations, face covering will be allowed during protests if the authorities allow it. This exception centres on the greater importance of allowing freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate.
Currently, the cantons of Ticino and St Gallen have public face covering bans. Fines have rarely been imposed in Ticino and never in St. Gallen, where the ban has been in place for five years.
Some argue that a ban is pointless as few people in Switzerland cover their faces and when they do few members of the public are bothered by it.