Coronavirus: Why Switzerland opposes making masks compulsory

Coronavirus: Why Switzerland opposes making masks compulsory
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Switzerland will not be making the wearing of masks compulsory for everyone who goes outside, with the country’s president saying “that doesn’t work for Switzerland”.

In an interview with Swiss media outlet Le Temps, Swiss president Simonetta Sommaruga explained why the country was not following the lead of some others and making it compulsory to wear a mask. 

The move is out of step with neighbours Austria, as well as several states in Germany, where wearing masks when entering certain businesses – or indeed leaving the house – has become compulsory. 

Coronavirus: Police warn of 'lockdown fatigue' as Swiss start bending rules

Sommaruga said that while specific industries may be forced to wear masks, a general requirement to wear masks when leaving the house simply wouldn’t work in Switzerland. 

“Not all situations are the same. The hairdressing industry has developed a protection plan which includes the wearing of a mask,” she said. 

“For public transport, discussions are underway between the branch, health experts and the administration. 

“(But to) Ask the population to wear a mask permanently outside? It doesn't work for us.”

“We cannot demand the wearing of a mask all the time”. 

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Tuesday that the mask requirements being put in place across that country were seen as a necessary step in coming out of lockdown – and may need to remain in place for several months. 

Neighbouring Austria has had compulsory mask requirements for several weeks. 

Currently, masks are not mandatory in Switzerland. Unlike several other countries, wearing masks is not recommended in Switzerland – unless the wearer is sick. 

Public support for compulsory masks

As reported by The Local Switzerland on Tuesday, the Swiss public is in support of a mask requirement. 

Coronavirus: Majority of Swiss support making masks compulsory 

A survey of more than 40,000 respondents showed that 59 percent of the population supported a law which required the public to wear masks. 

The percentage of those in support was even higher among those above 65, where 69 percent of respondents supported a compulsory mask requirement. 

Respondents in hard-hit areas were also broadly supportive, with 79 percent of respondents in the heaviest-hit canton of Ticino supporting such a move. 

Masks have been difficult to locate in Switzerland, particularly as they have only recently begun to be made domestically. Swiss news outlet Watson produced a list of websites which still had masks available for purchase on Wednesday. 

 


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