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Swiss voters back COVID-19 pass in bid to tackle rise in infections

Swiss voters back COVID-19 pass in bid to tackle rise in infections
Copyright Salvatore Di Nolfi/AP
Copyright Salvatore Di Nolfi/AP
By Euronews with AP
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62 per cent of Swiss voters backed a controversial COVID certificate in a national referendum on Sunday, official results showed.


Swiss voters approved by a clear margin the so-called 'COVID-19 law' in a referendum on Sunday.

The legislation, which is already in force, includes a pandemic recovery package and the application of a controversial COVID certificate.

Final results showed 62% of voters supporting the legislation, with an unusually high turnout of almost 66%. 

Like in many other countries in Europe, this health pass only lets people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative attend public events and gatherings.

The vote offers a relatively rare bellwether of public opinion specifically on the issue of government policy to fight the coronavirus in Europe, currently the global epicentre of the pandemic.

The vote comes as Switzerland — like many other nations in Europe — faces a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

The Swiss federal government, unlike others, hasn’t responded with new restrictions.

Analysts said it didn't want to stir up more opposition to its anti-COVID-19 policies before they faced Sunday's test at the ballot box — but that if Swiss voters gave a thumbs-up, the government may well ratchet up its anti-COVID efforts.

Health Minister Alain Berset said, with the result, authorities “still have the necessary instruments to manage the crisis, and we can, if necessary, adjust the instruments to developments.”

Of the country's 26 cantons (states), only two — Schwyz and Appenzell Innerrhoden, both conservative rural regions in eastern Switzerland — voted against the legislation.

"A decision has been made and we must come together now to get through this winter as well as possible," Berset said. This is an appeal for unity but also for respect for decisions that have been taken."

In recent weeks, opponents have raised heaps of cash for their campaign and drawn support from abroad.

Josef Ender, a spokesman for one of the groups that opposed it, told SRF public radio "it was important that the Swiss population could form an opinion on the tightening of the COVID law."

 He maintained that "even if there is a ‘yes’" to the legislation, it violates parts of the country's constitution.

On Tuesday, Swiss health authorities warned of a rising "fifth wave" in the rich Alpine country.

The seven-day average case count in Switzerland shot up to more than 5,200 per day from mid-October to mid-November, a more than five-fold increase.

Vaccination rates in Switzerland are roughly in line with those in hard-hit neighbours Austria and Germany at about two-thirds of the population.

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