Swiss police use concrete to block access to Covid sceptic restaurant

Police in Switzerland have placed several large concrete blocks in front of a bar in the canton of Valais after the bar owners repeatedly refused to enforce the country's Covid measures.

Concrete blocks in front of a restaurant in Zermatt. Image: Serena Tinari/Twitter
Concrete blocks in front of a restaurant in Zermatt. Image: Serena Tinari/Twitter

After the owner of the Walliserkanne restaurant in Zermatt (Valais) failed to comply several times with the obligation to check the customers’ Covid certificates, local police took a drastic measure of installing cement blocks in front of the entrance.

Covid certificates – which show that someone has been fully vaccinated, recovered or has tested negative to the virus – have been required to eat and drink in indoor areas in Switzerland since mid-September. 

Canton-by-canton: How visitors can get Switzerland’s Covid certificate

According to the media, while the operation was taking place, one of the owners – a die-hard Covid sceptic who repeatedly defied the certificate rule and the order to shut down his restaurant – threatened law enforcement that he would get his gun.

Both owners were arrested by the police on Sunday morning.

While jail terms can be handed down for businesses failing to comply with Covid certificate requirements, a legal expert told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes that jail terms appeared unlikely

A fine of up to CHF10,000 can be levied, while jail time is also possible in aggravated cases. 

The story has since gone viral on social media, with supporters and opponents of the restaurant owners sharing pictures of the concrete blocks placed out the front of the restaurant.  

Some internet users have claimed that one of the restaurant owners has since been hospitalised, however this has not been confirmed by police. 

The brouhaha is taking place as Zermatt, a popular resort at the foot of the Matterhorn, is preparing to begin its ski season on December 4th.

READ MORE: Winter sports: Which Swiss ski resorts are already open?

Member comments

  1. Cash only restaurant that plays games with who can sit in the sun depending on what they are ordering – place is a total rip off with lousy pizza. No surprise the owner puts his personal belief over the health of his local community.

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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?