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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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COVID-19

‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

Though Covid has not been a nationwide problem in Switzerland during recent several months, the virus is circulating again and rates of contamination are expected to soar in the coming weeks.

'Over a million people' in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

While the new wave has not been expected to hit before fall or winter,  Swiss health officials now say 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the virus before then.

This is a large number, considering that a total of 3.7 million people in Switzerland got infected since the beginning of the pandemic on February 24th, 2020.

“More than 80,000 new contaminations per week” are expected in the next two months, according to Tanja Stadler, the former head of the Covid-19 Task Force — much more than during the past two summers, when the rate of infections slowed down.

At the moment, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reports 24,704 new cases in the past seven days — double of what it was in April.

“The numbers are expected to continue to rise. Note that most of infected people will not be tested, so the number of confirmed cases will be smaller on paper than in reality”, Stadler added.

Although according to FOPH, nearly all cases in Switzerland (99 percent) are caused by Omicron and its sub-variants, which are less severe that the original Covid viruses, “more vulnerable people are likely to end up in hospital, and long Covid cases are also likely to rise”, she said.

Stadler also noted that Omicron virus can’t be compared with the flu, “because we observe long-term consequences much more often during an infection with Omicron than during the flu. Also, Covid can trigger very large waves, even in summer, while large flu outbreaks are rare at this time of year”.

There is, however, some positive news.

“The most recent data shows that 97 percent of the adult population in Switzerland has antibodies against Covid thanks to vaccinations and previous infections”, Stadler said.

Also, “in the long term, things will stabilise. But in the years to come, there will probably be waves in the summer too”.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?

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