‘German speakers half as likely to wear masks’: Pandemic highlights Switzerland’s cultural divide

‘German speakers half as likely to wear masks’: Pandemic highlights Switzerland’s cultural divide
A masked person takes a picture of a Swiss flag hanging on mountain Saentis Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Twice as many people wear masks in public in French and Italian-speaking Switzerland than in German-speaking Switzerland, a new report has found.

A new study has shown that twice as many people wear masks in public in ‘Latin Switzerland’ – i.e. the French and Italian-speaking regions – when compared to German-speaking Switzerland. 

In German-speaking Switzerland, almost two thirds (64 percent) of respondents said they do not wear masks in public spaces, compared with 31 percent of people in Latin Switzerland. 

The average across Switzerland, according to the study, is that 45 percent of respondents wear masks in public spaces. 

In total, 86 percent of respondents wear masks in public transport – where they have been compulsory since July 6th. 

Nine out of ten (90 percent) said they respected social distancing rules, both now and at the outbreak of the pandemic. 

The survey, conducted by Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health, was conducted at the end of July. A total of 1,673 people were surveyed as part of the study. 

It is the fifth survey of its kind undertaken by the FOPH since the start of the pandemic in March. 

German-speaking Switzerland avoided the worst of the pandemic

As reported by The Local Switzerland early in the outbreak of the pandemic, the French and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland were hit harder by the pandemic than German-speaking Switzerland. 

Coronavirus in Switzerland: Why have the French and Italian-speaking regions been so hard hit? 

At one more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the country's total victims of Covid-19 live in Latin Switzerland, despite these areas accounting for less than a third of the country's population.

On current figures, while infection rates in Zurich are growing, mortality remains higher in Latin Switzerland. 

More than half of Switzerland’s 2010 deaths have come from just three cantons: Vaud (432), Geneva (297) and Ticino (350), all of which speak either French or Italian. 

The canton with the fourth-highest number of deaths, Valais (155), is majority French speaking. 

Zurich, the canton with Switzerland’s largest population, has recorded 142 deaths from the virus. 


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