‘It strengthens the fight’: How Switzerland reacted to new Covid rules
Starting today, new rules to curb the spread of coronavirus enter into force in Switzerland. This is how the media, epidemiologists, politicians, and other groups have reacted to the more restrictive measures.
“Only people who have been vaccinated or cured will have access to inside spaces at restaurants, cultural establishments and sports and leisure facilities, as well as to indoor events,” the Federal Council announced on Friday.
Private gatherings will be limited to 10 people, including children, if anyone among the group is not vaccinated or cannot show proof of recovery.
Additionally, the government made the home-working obligation mandatory once more, with all the measures remaining in effect at least until January 24th, 2022.
Reactions to new measures have been mostly positive.
“This ‘shock therapy’ is necessary to break the fifth wave and avoid a health catastrophe”, wrote Tribune de Genève after the measures were announced.
The newspaper warned, however, that new restrictions could “further radicalise vaccine opponents" and cause “mounting frustration”.
“The decisions announced on Friday are justified as exceptional measures. Over time, they are simply untenable", the Tribune added.
For Schweiz am Wochende, excluding the non-vaccinated from social life is justified. "We find ourselves in the biggest health crisis in a hundred years. Each person must therefore assume their choices and 2G will prevent confinement”.
Heath experts too speak in favour of the new rules.
“From the epidemiological point of view, these measures are logical, even if taken too late”, Didier Pittet, head of the infection prevention service at Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) said in an interview with RTS public broadcaster.
However, epidemiologist Didier Trono believes the measures are “too flexible, so it should come as no surprise that our numbers are so high”.
He said tougher rules are needed, especially as the Omicron variant “will be dominant in Switzerland in two weeks”.
The toughening of measures is welcomed by a majority of political parties, though some are more enthusiastic about it than others.
For the Social Democrats, “the strategy goes in the right direction and strengthens the fight against the pandemic, as does the obligation of teleworking, which guarantees better protection of the working population”.
Balthasar Glättli, president of the Greens, also described new measures as “essential”.
"The package of measures is tough for all of us and also for the companies affected, but it is definitely necessary. The Federal Council recommends postponing non-urgent interventions in the hospitals - that shows how serious the situation is today”.
Some parties, however, have reservations about certain aspects of new rules.
Gerhard Pfister, president of the Center political party said he is concerned that "the restrictions for unvaccinated will exclude them from certain parts of social life". But the party will do everything "to promote mutual understanding, respect and solidarity".
The Liberals “understand the decision taken by the Federal Council to contain the pandemic and to protect hospitals from saturation. However, they oppose a rigid obligation to work from home”, the party said.
The most hostile reaction came from the far-right.
The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which has spoken against all the Covid restrictions, is the only mainstream political organisation that rejects all the measures.
“The Federal Council spoils Christmas for the Swiss with the disproportionate 2G rule”, SVP wrote on its website.
The party “condemns the widespread introduction of 2G, the rule of ten at private meetings and the renewed obligation to work from home” which, the SVP argues, “are purely symbolic politics to further harass the population”.
The reaction is also mixed from the business circles, especially in regards to the home-working obligation.
“Even if the Federal Council's tightening to combat the pandemic is limited in time, it will affect the entire Swiss economy”, according to the Swiss Employers Association.
“The employers therefore demand careful application that is limited in time to a minimum and, depending on developments, further support measures”.