The movement, which has held high-profile rallies in Zurich, Geneva, Bern and elsewhere, is highly critical of the government’s coronavirus mitigation strategy, particularly the requirement to wear masks and the impact of the mitigation measures on the economy.
Berset told Switzerland’s NZZ am Sonntag that the movement was contrary to Swiss values and was “imported from abroad”.
“A movement is being built (in Switzerland) against our fact-driven, democratic society”, Berset said.
“Some of the anti-coronavirus movement appears to be imported from abroad”.
Although the coronavirus skeptic movement in Switzerland has been most prominent in the German-speaking parts of the country, rallies have recently been held in French-speaking Switzerland.
A rally in Geneva on September 12 attracted an estimated 1000 people, mirroring that of a demonstration held in Zurich the week before.
– IN PICTURES: Inside Switzerland's anti-coronavirus lockdown protests
– IN PICTURES: Hundreds attend coronavirus skeptic rally in Zurich
While accepting that coronavirus sceptics were only a “noisy minority” of “rightwing extremists, radical anti-vaccination campaigners and obscure conspiracy theorists”, it had the potential to disrupt the country’s efforts in fighting the virus.
Berset said Switzerland’s approach to managing the virus was fact-based and was not especially strict on a global basis.
“I have little sympathy for the current tendency to deny the virus, which is causing much suffering worldwide, and even accuse the authorities of dictatorial behaviour. That is absurd. Switzerland is one of the more liberal countries when it comes to corona measures,” he declared.
A coronavirus skeptic rally in Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
“We implemented the law on epidemics passed by the people. In addition, the Federal Council has always acted with a sense of proportion, always giving the needs of society and the economy the highest possible priority.
“Epidemiologists accuse us of having been too hesitant in issuing the restrictions and then too brisk in reopening them. It is nonsensical and dishonest to accuse us of dictatorial behaviour now. I have no sympathy for this,” he said.
Berset came under fire in the Swiss media this week when he, along with representatives of his department, assured the public that the virus was under control, despite rising infection rates.
Coronavirus: Switzerland now officially a high-risk area
Switzerland is now officially a high-risk area for the coronavirus, according to the threshold set up by the Swiss government.
Switzerland's Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recorded 5256 infections over the past two weeks – a 16 percent increase on the previous period.