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Swiss president: People who want to travel ‘will have to be vaccinated’

Switzerland’s president Guy Parmelin is convinced that a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 will soon be mandatory on international flights.

Swiss president: People who want to travel 'will have to be vaccinated'
Will only vaccinated people be allowed to travel internationally? Photo by AFP

“In the future, anyone who wishes to travel will need to be vaccinated”, Parmelin said in an interview with NZZ on Sunday. 

He also noted that he would find it “appropriate and understandable” that organisers of mass events like football matches or concerts, adopt the same requirement.

“The Federal Council has to still discuss how we want to regulate this. But I would give great priority to the interests of security”, he added.

To date, there is no widespread obligation for international travellers to present a proof of vaccination before being allowed to board a plane or enter most countries, though many nations, including Switzerland, require a proof of negative Covid-19 test.

Parmelin’s comments coincide with the debate around the question of whether vaccinated people should be granted special privileges in Switzerland. 

READ MORE: Reader question: Will vaccinated people have special privileges in Switzerland? 

So far, Graubünden is the only canton that is giving certain benefits to people who have received both doses of the vaccine — for instance, they may be allowed to avoid the quarantine requirements.

However, ethical and legal questions about this practice abound.

“In general, inequalities in treatment favouring vaccinated people could only be justified if the vaccination also protects against the transmission of the virus and if all people wishing to be vaccinated have access to it”, the National Ethics Committee in Human Medicine (CNE) said last week.

READ MORE: Can vaccinated people avoid Switzerland's quarantine requirement? 

While research indicates that vaccination is likely to prevent transmission, as yet only ten percent of the Swiss populace has been vaccinated. 

The CNE added that “it may be justified, under appropriate conditions, to lift certain restrictions for vaccinated people and to require a vaccination certificate for certain activities of daily living”.

It is also legitimate for airlines to request proof of vaccination, especially since it is difficult to ensure a “sufficiently safe environment for all travellers” on long flights, CNE noted.

While an association of business groups, Economiesuisse, supports giving certain perks to vaccinated people as a way to help boost the economy, some politicians have spoken against this practice. 

The rightwing Swiss People’s Party, for instance, rejects “state discrimination” against unvaccinated people, especially as long as there is not enough doses available for everyone.

“Privileges for vaccinated people would also mean compulsory vaccination through the back door,” according to party president Marco Chiesa.

READ MORE: Can vaccinated people avoid Switzerland's quarantine requirement? 

Member comments

  1. It does seem unfair that when the vaccines are so difficult to get, that only vaccinated people can return to normal life. However, the economy needs to restart, and as more and more get the vaccines, more and more restaurant, hotels, businesses etc can get going again… so I would agree to greater privileges and vaccine passes.
    With respect to those who choose against being vaccinated; they choose between losing the right to mix with other people in restaurants and planes etc, or being part of helping society get back to normal.

  2. It does seem unfair that when the vaccines are so difficult to get, that only vaccinated people can return to normal life. However, the economy needs to restart, and as more and more get the vaccines, more and more restaurant, hotels, businesses etc can get going again… so I would agree to greater privileges and vaccine passes.
    With respect to those who choose against being vaccinated; they choose between losing the right to mix with other people in restaurants and planes etc, or being part of helping society get back to normal.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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