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COVID-19 VACCINES

Switzerland moves towards mandatory Covid certificates in restaurants and gyms

The Swiss government is considering requiring people to show Covid certificates to enter all indoor areas of bars, gyms, restaurants, museums and private events.

Switzerland moves towards mandatory Covid certificates in restaurants and gyms
The Swiss government wants to tighten Covid pass requirements. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

Similar measures have been introduced in most of Switzerland’s neighbours, however the Swiss government has been reluctant to extend them further. 

Currently, Covid certificates – which show if someone is vaccinated, recovered or tested negative – are required for nightclubs, discos and events with more than 1,000 people in Switzerland. Covid certificates are also required for travel in some instances. 

The Swiss government also confirmed that tests will no longer be free in Switzerland from October 1st onwards. 

When making the announcement, the government issued a press release pointing to the “sharp rise” in cases and hospital admissions seen in recent weeks. 

READ MORE: Covid infections in Switzerland skyrocket

“The Federal Council is proposing to extend the certificate requirement currently applicable to clubs and discos to all indoor areas of restaurants, bars and clubs. Certificates can be checked at the entrance or on first contact with guests when seated.”

“Access to indoor events (concerts, theatre, cinema, sporting events, private events such as weddings) is also to be restricted to COVID certificate holders.

“Access to venues such as museums, zoos, fitness centres, climbing halls, swimming pools, water parks, spas, billiard halls and casinos is to be limited to COVID certificate holders. Sites that are exclusively outdoors are exempt.”

People will be checked on entry, under the proposal. 

Not all indoor venues will require Covid certificates, however. 

Religious ceremonies, political events, weddings and funerals with up to 30 people will be exempt from the requirement. 

Will this be put into effect – and when? 

The government did not provide a timeline according to which the measures will be introduced, instead saying the framework should be put in place so that the government “will be able to act quickly if necessary”. 

Presumably, if this measure is approved, it will be put in place when hospitals find themselves overrun by Covid-related admissions. 

As for whether the measures will be put in place as outlined above, it is difficult to determine. 

As reported by The Local previously, several Swiss cantons have already indicated they want stricter rules for the Covid certificate. 

Bars, restaurants and events: Which Swiss cantons want stricter Covid certificate rules?

Throughout the pandemic, the cantons have only made relatively minor changes to proposals laid out by the federal government. 

The move has however met some resistance from those in the gastronomy and hospitality industry, with several representatives telling Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes they feel the measure would hurt their business and is discriminatory. 

“We are against a certificate requirement – to drink a coffee, the effort is too great,” said Urs Pfäffli, President of Gastro Zürich-City,

Pfäffli also indicated that it places too much pressure on venues to check the certificates, arguing the burden instead should be laid at the feet of the police. 

Gastrosuisse, the peak body for hospitality in the country, said the move is divisive. 

“Every day, 2.5 million people come to the restaurant, café or bar. The expansion of the certificate leads to discrimination and threatens to divide society. “

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COVID-19 CERTIFICATE

What will Switzerland do about the ‘millions’ of expiring Covid certificates?

In the coming months, millions of Covid certificates are set to expire in Switzerland. What will the government do about it?

What will Switzerland do about the ‘millions’ of expiring Covid certificates?

As certificates are valid for nine months after the second vaccine dose or a booster, “millions of Swiss Covid certificates will expire by autumn at the latest”, according to Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes.

As many Swiss received their most recent shot in late 2021, the nine-month period will soon be coming to an end. 

Although this is not a problem domestically as proof of vaccination is no longer required in Switzerland, it may pose issues for travel. 

Since many countries still require a vaccination certificate for entry, and as the second round of boosters is not yet available in Switzerland,  this means that a large number of people may not be able to travel abroad.

And while other countries have already started to administer second booster shots, Swiss health authorities are dragging their feet, not having even issued a recommendation for the fourth dose yet.

This worries some MPs, who are calling on the government to make second boosters available soonest possible.

“The past has shown that cantons are not always sufficiently prepared. Something like this mustn’t happen again”, said MP Fabian Molina, adding that anyone travelling abroad should be able to be re-vaccinated if they wish. 

Another deputy, Yvonne Feri, noted that the federal government and the cantons have to prepare to vaccinate again within a short period of time.

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

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