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Everything that changes in Switzerland in June 2021

Fewer restrictions and more vaccinations are in store in Switzerland in the month of June in 2021.

Everything that changes in Switzerland in June 2021
Swiss will vote on several issues on June 13th. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 Far fewer restrictions in June

The month will begin with many Covid-19 measures relaxed or lifted altogether. Among them are the re-opening of indoor areas of restaurants, increasing the number of people allowed for private gatherings indoors to 30 and outdoors to 50. For events with spectators and audiences, 100 people instead of 50 will be permitted indoors, and 300 instead of 100 outdoors.

Home working obligation will be lifted for companies that perform regular testing, and no contact or travel quarantine will be required for those fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid for six months.

Restaurants will be open in June. STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP

READ MORE: Switzerland to further relax coronavirus measures from Monday

Swiss will vote (again) on June 13th

The five issues that are at stake include the controversial Anti-Covid Law, which would give the government a legal basis to impose restrictions aimed at tackling the pandemic on an ongoing basis.

The CO2 Act seeks to introduce several taxes and measures to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The Anti-Terrorism legislation would strengthen previous standards against terrorism and organised crime, punishing recruitment, training and travel with an intent to commit a terrorist act.

The Clean Drinking Water Initiative “requires that agricultural subsidies be allocated only to agricultural practices that do not harm the environment and do not pollute drinking water”.

They refer specifically to pesticides, antibiotics, and imports of fodder and fertilizers used in farming.

The initiative “For a Switzerland free of synthetic pesticides” calls for the ban on these products in agriculture, in the public sphere, and would also apply to imports of products from abroad.

Summer begins (hopefully)

June 21st marks the beginning of summer in Switzerland and the entire Northern Hemisphere.

Given the lack of real spring throughout much of April and May, which were dominated mainly by low temperatures, a lot of rain, and snow at low altitudes, we can only hope summer will bring sunshine and warmth.

Immunity card

Swiss authorities have promised to put in place a coronavirus immunity passport – which entitles vaccinated people to various privileges – by the end of June when the first measures related to its use will come into force.

On a domestic level, benefits will include attending events, playing sport and visiting restaurants, while at an international level it will include travel. 

READ MORE: Switzerland promises Covid-19 passport ‘by the summer’

Accelerated vaccinations

In its three-phase strategy that the Swiss government has set up for gradual easing of the remaining coronavirus measures, the entire adult population will have access to the vaccines, and everyone who wants to be vaccinated will have received at least the first dose by the end of June, authorities said.

Member comments

  1. Any idea when vaccinated US guests will be allowed in? It is my understanding that such people no longer have a mandatory quarantine. However there is another list that governs entry that currently bars leisure travelers from flights that originate in the US. Is there any sense of a time line when that may be lifted?

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OFFBEAT

Is Switzerland’s male-only mandatory military service ‘discriminatory’?

Under Swiss law, all men must serve at least one year in compulsory national service. But is this discriminatory?

Swiss military members walk across a road carrying guns
A new lawsuit seeks to challenge Switzerland's male-only military service requirement. Is this discriminatory? FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

All men aged between the ages of 18 and 30 are required to complete compulsory military service in Switzerland. 

A lawsuit which worked its way through the Swiss courts has now ended up in the European Court of Human Rights, where the judges will decide if Switzerland’s male-only conscription requirement violates anti-discrimination rules. 

Switzerland’s NZZ newspaper wrote on Monday the case has “explosive potential” and has “what it takes to cause a tremor” to a policy which was first laid out in Switzerland’s 1848 and 1874 Federal Constitutions. 

What is Switzerland’s compulsory military service? 

Article 59 of the Federal Constitution of Switzerland says “Every man with Swiss citizenship is liable for military service. Alternative civilian service shall be provided for by law.”

Recruits must generally do 18 weeks of boot camp (longer in some cases). 

They are then required to spend several weeks in the army every year until they have completed a minimum 245 days of service.

Military service is compulsory for Swiss men aged 18 and over. Women can chose to do military service but this is rare.

What about national rather than military service? 

Introduced in 1996, this is an alternative to the army, originally intended for those who objected to military service on moral grounds. 

READ MORE: The Swiss army’s growing problem with civilian service

Service is longer there than in the army, from the age of 20 to 40. 

This must be for 340 days in total, longer than the military service requirement. 

What about foreigners and dual nationals? 

Once you become a Swiss citizen and are between the ages of 18 and 30, you can expect to be conscripted. 

READ MORE: Do naturalised Swiss citizens have to do military service?

In general, having another citizenship in addition to the Swiss one is not going to exempt you from military service in Switzerland.

However, there is one exception: the obligation to serve will be waved, provided you can show that you have fulfilled your military duties in your other home country.

If you are a Swiss (naturalised or not) who lives abroad, you are not required to serve in the military in Switzerland, though you can voluntarily enlist. 

How do Swiss people feel about military and national service? 

Generally, the obligation is viewed relatively positively, both by the general public and by those who take part in compulsory service. 

While several other European countries have gotten rid of mandatory service, a 2013 referendum which attempted to abolish conscription was rejected by 73 percent of Swiss voters. 

What is the court case and what does it say? 

Martin D. Küng, the lawyer from the Swiss canton of Bern who has driven the case through the courts, has a personal interest in its success. 

He was found unfit for service but is still required to pay an annual bill to the Swiss government, which was 1662CHF for the last year he was required to pay it. 

While the 36-year-old no longer has to pay the amount – the obligation only lasts between the ages of 18 and 30 – Küng is bring the case on principle. 

So far, Küng has had little success in the Swiss courts, with his appeal rejected by the cantonal administrative court and later by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. 

Previous Supreme Court cases, when hearing objections to men-only military service, said that women are less suitable for conscription due to “physiological and biological differences”.

In Küng’s case, the judges avoided this justification, saying instead that the matter was a constitutional issue. 

‘No objective reason why only men have to do military service’

He has now appealed the decision to the European level. 

While men have previously tried and failed when taking their case to the Supreme Court, no Swiss man has ever brought the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. 

Küng told the NZZ that he considered the rule to be unjust and said the Supreme Court’s decision is based on political considerations. 

“I would have expected the Federal Supreme Court to have the courage to clearly state the obvious in my case and not to decide on political grounds,” Küng said. 

“There is no objective reason why only men have to do military service or pay replacement taxes. On average, women may not be as physically productive as men, but that is not a criterion for excluding them from compulsory military service. 

There are quite a few men who cannot keep up with women in terms of stamina. Gender is simply the wrong demarcation criterion for deciding on compulsory service. If so, then one would have to focus on physical performance.”

Is it likely to pass? 

Küng is optimistic that the Strasbourg court will find in his favour, pointing to a successful appeal by a German man who complained about a fire brigade tax, which was only imposed on men. 

“This question has not yet been conclusively answered by the court” Küng said. 

The impact of a decision in his favour could be considerable, with European law technically taking precedence over Swiss law.

It would set Switzerland on a collision course with the bloc, particularly given the popularity of the conscription provision. 

Küng clarified that political outcomes and repercussions don’t concern him. 

“My only concern is for a court to determine that the current regulation is legally wrong.”

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