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ECONOMY

Swiss government criticised for not doing enough to revive economy

While most of Switzerland’s political groups are praising the de-confinement process announced by the government on Thursday, some argue that the measures are not sweeping enough, harming the economy.

Swiss government criticised for not doing enough to revive economy
Not everyone is happy with the way Swiss government is handling the economy. Photo AFP

The three-stage easing of the lockdown to begin on April 27th will focus on re-opening the country’s businesses and public spaces gradually, to prevent the number of coronavirus infections from surging. 

Starting with small businesses, shops, and medical facilities, the openings will extend to schools, as well as leisure and recreational facilities over the next six weeks.

While middle and centre-left parties expressed their satisfaction with the government’ s “clear and reasonable” exit strategy, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP / UDC) predicted that the announced measures would have a detrimental effect on the country’s economy.

“Instead of strengthening the testing system, getting enough protective masks and continuing traceability of infections through applications, which would allow people in Switzerland to return to work as quickly as possible, the government increases the damage to the economy “, the party said on its website.

The SVP added that the strategy will continue to cause a sharp rise in unemployment, expected to reach 7 percent by summer — much higher than Switzerland’s usual jobless rate of below 3 percent.

“Support programs in the tens of billions of francs and the massive drop in unemployment-driven tax revenues will hugely increase the deficits of the federal government, the cantons and the communes”, the SVP said.

READ MORE: Switzerland doubles emergency coronavirus loan fund for small businesses 

Among those who are also critical of the exit strategy are restaurant and tourism sectors, which are not included in the timeline for the de-confinement.

“Our industry is left in a state of uncertainty “, said Casimir Platzer, president of GastroSuisse, an association of hotels, restaurants, and bars in a press release. 

“It is very disappointing that the Federal Council has not offered us a possibility to resume our activities, when many companies in other branches will be able to start a return to normalcy”.

The government had not explained why the sector is excluded from the exit strategy, or when it might be allowed to operate again.

 

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COVID-19

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?

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