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COVID-19

When will Switzerland decide whether to enforce the Covid certificate in restaurants?

The Swiss government has so far postponed a decision on its proposal to make Covid certificates obligatory for entry into bars and restaurants.

When will Switzerland decide whether to enforce the Covid certificate in restaurants?
Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

Swiss authorities met on Wednesday to discuss expanding the country’s Covid certificate. 

Under the plan, the certificate – which shows if you’ve been vaccinated, recovered or have tested negative to the virus – would be required in indoor areas of bars, restaurants, clubs, gyms and at private parties. 

This would be in line with the current policy practiced in most of Switzerland’s neighbour countries.

However, while the decision was expected on September 1st, the Federal Council said it would be delayed. No date for entry into force has yet been set.

EXPLAINED: What will Switzerland’s expanded Covid certificate look like?

“This decision is justified”, according to Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control section of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

“We are not in a dynamic of increasing cases, so we can still afford to observe what will happen”, she said in an interview with Swiss public broadcaster RTS on Thursday.

The number of new daily cases has been oscillating between high 2,000s and low 3,000s in the past several weeks. Meanwhile, the rate of Covid-related hospital admissions has risen sharply, with some intensive care units near their full capacities.

READ MORE:  Swiss hospitals: Sharp increase in the number of Covid patients in intensive care

“If, however, it becomes necessary to take measures to relieve the burden of the hospitals, the Federal Council will be able to order them without delay”, the government said.

What are the authorities waiting for?

They will be watching the epidemiological evolution —  the number of infections and hospitalisations — as well as the number of vaccinations, according to the analysis carried out by Watson news outlet.

FOPH data indicates that the pace of immunisations in Switzerland has picked up somewhat in the past days, even though it still remains below the European Union average.

FOPH

What are the reactions in Switzerland to the possibility of extension of the immunity certificate?

They are mostly positive.

The majority of the cantons and almost all political parties, with the exception of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), are in favour of this measure, seen as a way to keep the health system from being overburdened.

Several groups are opposed to this move, primarily among the sectors that would be most impacted by the new rule.

Among them are Gastrosuisse, the umbrella association of restaurant and hotel industry, as well as the fitness industry.

As for readers of The Local, our recent poll revealed most  back the proposal believing there must be consequences for those who are not jabbed.

The Local asked readers their views on the Swiss government’s proposal in a survey on our website and we were inundated with responses.

Dozens more replied on social media, showing how controversial and high-profile the issue is in Switzerland.

The poll asked a simple yes or no question about whether people supported the plan to extend the certificate or not.

66.5 percent said they agreed with the expansion, while 29.7 percent said they did not.

3.8 percent of respondents told us they were not sure how they felt about the issue.

There were several reasons for why people supported the expansion, most of which revolved around safety, responsibility and getting back to normal.

Several readers told us they felt getting vaccinated was about acting responsibly to protect the most vulnerable in society, while others simply said they wanted the pandemic to be over. 

One of the most prominent responses related to safety. 

Vicky, from Geneva, said she’d feel safer with a Covid pass.

“Currently in Geneva the lack of a Covid passport is attracting unvaccinated French over the border to avoid the Vax passport in France”.

The theme of social responsibility came through strong, particularly among those who were concerned that the vaccinated could be subjected to lockdowns again purely due to the acts of the unvaccinated. 

Kelly, also from Geneva, said it was unfair to the vaccinated – particularly if there is another lockdown.

“Those who are vaccinated will have to pay the price of stricter measures because of those who are unvaccinated, which is unfair.”

“Choosing not to get vaccinated should have consequences for the individual, as it has consequences for the rest of society. More importantly, keeping the virus circulating by refusing vaccination puts all of our children at risk, and our entire healthcare system under stress.”

See other reader responses here:

‘Not being vaccinated should have consequences’: The verdict on Switzerland’s Covid certificate expansion

Member comments

  1. The ignorance and wilful acceptance of propaganda is staggering.
    It is now proven that the “vaccine” does NOT stop you getting the virus nor from spreading it.
    It may well prevent severity in the patient BUT this has no bearing whatsoever on the “safety” of others.
    What are the societal consequences placed on those who smoke, are obese and sustain abjectly reckless lifestyles? All impact negatively on the health system.
    None of this idiotic muddled thinking will prevent a single future lockdown or from those with vested interest preventing us from getting back to “normal”.
    It’s just not going to happen. Wake up!
    How many more: “we just need to get to 60% 70% 80% 90% 2000000% vaccination rate before we remove x y a restrictions is it going to take before the scales of wishful thinking drop from the eyes of the mindless majority? By this point, we will sleep walked into full Chinafication.

    1. You are right. I’m continually gobsmacked at the ignorance of people and their lack of ability for critical thought.

      “There were several reasons for why people supported the expansion, most of which revolved around safety, responsibility and getting back to normal.” A passport will NOT get us back to normal. Who are we kidding? The people who voted on this clearly have zero understanding about how a virus spreads and that no digital passport is going to stop a virus even if it’s a private party full of 500 vaccinated people. Or maybe they are looking for a reward, a way of showing their superiority over others?

      One only has to look at the Carnival Cruise with 4000 fully vaccinated people and they had an outbreak to see passports are meaningless. Or the music festival in Devon with 50K people all vaccinated or a negative test to get in – they recorded more than 4,500 positive cases among the vaccinated. Since the unvaccinated all tested negative, and the vaccinated had no tests, it was most likely them that passed the virus around. I could go on with other examples, but I will stop there. The passports are NOT about the virus. They are about instituting a monitored and tracked society. People are so willing to slide into a China like state. Will they only see it when it’s too late?

      A year ago if we were to suggest that people should be denied health treatments because they willingly smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day, contracted diabetes because they binged on sugar foods or contracted HIV from sleeping around we would have been attacked for daring to suggest people be responsible for illnesses they could control.

      I worry about what is happening to us. What we all need to realise that we need to stop arguing amongst ourselves and focus on the globalists, the 1%, WEF, WHO & Gates et al who got us here. How will this end?

    2. Of course the vaccine doesn’t stop you getting the virus nor from spreading it, because no vaccine is 100% effective! This is hardly “news”. However, the efficacy if the vaccines offered in Switzerland is very high, and whilst a minority of vaccinated will still catch and spread the virus:

      a) They are much less likely to catch and therefore spread it
      b) They are much less likely to end up in hospital if they do catch it

      The way you are talking, apparently vaccinations make no difference at all to anybody other than the person receiving the shot, which is rubbish.

      https://www.thelocal.ch/20210805/what-is-the-risk-of-catching-covid-and-getting-sick-if-you-are-vaccinated-in-switzerland/

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TRAVEL NEWS

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

The EU has announced that its Covid travel certificate will be extended until 2023. Claudia Delpero looks at what this mean if you have a trip planned this year.

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

Cleaning up the phone and thinking of getting rid of that Covid app? Just wait a minute. 

The European Union has decided to extend the use of EU Covid certificates by one year, until June 30th 2023. 

The European Commission first made the proposal in February as the virus, and the Omicron variant in particular, was continuing to spread in Europe. At that point it was “not possible to determine the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 or of the emergence of new variants,” the Commission said. 

Now tourism is taking off again, while Covid cases are on the rise in several European countries.

So the EU has taken action to ensure that travellers can continue using the so-called ‘digital green certificates’ in case new restrictions are put in place after their initial deadline of June 30th, 2022. 

What is the EU ‘digital green certificate’?

If you have travelled within the EU in the last year, you have probably already used it.

On 1st July 2021, EU countries started to introduce the ‘digital green certificate’, a Covid pass designed by the European Commission to facilitate travel between EU member states following months of restrictions.

It can be issued to EU citizens and residents who have been vaccinated against Covid, have tested negative or have recovered from the virus, as a proof of their health status. 

Although it’s called a certificate, it isn’t a separate document, it’s just a way of recognising all EU countries’ national health pass schemes.

It consists of a QR code displayed on a device or printed.

So if you live in an EU country, the QR code issued when you were vaccinated or tested can be scanned and recognised by all other EU countries – you can show the code either on a paper certificate or on your country’s health pass app eg TousAntiCovid if you’re in France or the green pass in Italy. 

Codes are recognised in all EU 27 member states, as well as in 40 non-EU countries that have joined the scheme, including the UK – full list here.

What does the extension of certificates mean? 

In practice, the legal extension of the EU Covid pass does not mean much if EU countries do not impose any restrictions.

It’s important to point out that each country within the EU decides on its own rules for entry – requiring proof of vaccination, negative tests etc so you should check with your country of destination.

All the EU certificate does is provide an easy way for countries to recognise each others’ certificates.

At present travel within the EU is fairly relaxed, with most countries only requiring negative tests for unvaccinated people, but the certificate will become more relevant again if countries impose new measures to curb the spread of the virus. 

According to the latest data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, countries such as France, Portugal and parts of Italy and Austria are in the red again. 

The EU legislation on the certificate neither prescribes nor prohibits such measures, but makes sure that all certificate holders are treated in the same way in any participating country. 

The EU certificate can also be used for access to venues such as bars and restaurants if countries decided to re-impose health or vaccines passes on a domestic basis.

So nothing changes?

In fact, the legislation introduces some changes to the current certificates. These include the clarification that passes issued after vaccination should reflect all doses administered, regardless of the member state where the inoculation occurred. This followed complaints of certificates indicating an incorrect number of vaccine doses when these were received in different countries.

In addition, new rules allow the possibility to issue a certificate of recovery following an antigen test and extend the range of uthorised antigen tests to qualify for the green pass. 

To support the development and study of vaccines against Covid, it will also be possible to issue vaccination certificates to people participating in clinical trials.

At the insistence of the European Parliament, the Commission will have to publish an assessment of the situation by December 31st 2022 and propose to repeal or maintain the certificate accordingly. So, while it is extended for a year, the certificate could be discontinued earlier if it will no longer be consider necessary. 

The European parliament rapporteur, Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, said: “The lack of coordination from EU governments on travel brought chaos and disruption to the lives of millions of Europeans that simply wanted to move freely and safely throughout the EU.

“We sincerely hope that the worst of the pandemic is far behind us and we do not want Covid certificates in place a day longer than necessary.”

Vaccination requirements for the certificate

An EU certificate can be issued to a person vaccinated with any type of vaccine, but many countries accept only EMA-approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Valneva and Janssen) – if you have been vaccinated with another vaccine, you should check the rules on the country you are travelling to.  

Certificates remain valid for 9 months (270) days following a complete vaccination cycle – so if you had your vaccine more than nine months ago you will need a booster in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

There is no requirement for a second booster, so if you have had a booster you remain ‘fully vaccinated’ even if your booster was administered more than 9 months ago. 

As of 1st March 2022, EU countries had issued almost 1.2 billion EU Covid certificates, of which 1.15 billion following vaccination, 511 million as a result of tests and 55 million after recovery from the virus. 

France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Austria are the countries that have issued the largest number of EU Covid certificates. 

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