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How rigorously will Swiss police enforce the new Covid certificate rules?

Switzerland's new Covid-19 certificate requirement is in effect from Monday until at least January 24th, 2022 but how will authorities and police monitor and enforce the compliance with these rules?

How rigorously will Swiss police enforce the new Covid certificate rules?
Police will monitor new rule compliance. Photo by MICHELE LIMINA / AFP

The certificate is now compulsory to access almost all indoor areas, including restaurants, bars, fitness centres, sports events, cultural facilities, as well as some gatherings such as weddings in private venues.

People caught breaking the rules could be fined 100 francs, while a much heftier penalty of up to 10,000 francs could be slapped on businesses that don’t comply with the requirement.

Police in each canton are responsible for monitoring compliance and issuing fines.

But how diligent and thorough will the police be?

READ MORE: TODAY: Switzerland extends Covid certificate for entry to restaurants and bars

For Adrian Gaugler, spokesperson for the Conference of Cantonal Police Commanders, there is no question of being careless or too lenient.

“The police will apply the extension of the compulsory certificate decided by the Federal Council”, he told the Blick newspaper.

However, due to lack of resources, the cantonal police forces will only be able to carry out random checks or respond to reports of non-compliance.

“The police will carry out checks within reason”, according to Corina Winkler, spokesperson for the Aargau cantonal police.

And what will happen if there is a lack of cooperation?

“The first step is to seek a dialogue but if necessary, we will also react with administrative fines or we will denounce those who do not comply with the measures to the public prosecutor’s office “, she added.

The canton of Solothurn will also rely on the ‘soft’ approach first.

“It is very important for us to proceed in a proportionate manner and with common sense,” said spokesperson Thalia Mosimann. “We know that the current situation is difficult for everyone, and we take that into account as much as possible.”

Bern takes a similar approach.

“In the beginning, our staff will probably talk to restaurant owners as part of their daily patrol activities. But a fine is to be expected in the event of a violation”, said spokesperson Lena Zurbuchen.

“As always, these judgments are made on a case-by-case basis. We choose the smoother path that leads to law enforcement”.

However, all the police forces make it clear that in the event of flagrant violations or unreasonable persons, action — fines or criminal prosecution in extreme cases of repeated non-compliance —will be taken.

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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?