Reader question: Which Swiss cantons will keep the Covid certificate in place?
Several Swiss cantons have expressed a desire to keep the Covid certificate in place. What does that mean for the relaxation of Covid measures?
On Wednesday February 16th, Switzerland announced an imminent relaxation of almost all Covid measures.
The decision was made after a two-week consultation with Switzerland's cantons to decide the way forward out of the pandemic.
The government announced that almost all Covid measures are being relaxed from Thursday, February 17th.
Covid certificates - which show someone has been vaccinated, recovered or in some cases has tested negative - will no longer be required in restaurants, cinemas or at events.
Masks will no longer be required in shops, supermarkets and the workplace, while they will continue to be required in public transport for the meantime.
More information about the relaxed measures can be found at the following link.
What does this mean at a cantonal level?
While the federal government no longer requires Covid certificates, they can however be required by the cantons, under the new framework.
Swiss media has previously reported that several cantons want to keep the certificate in place.
During the consultation period, several cantons expressed reservations about completely removing the certificate requirement.
The small, centralised and predominantly German-speaking cantons of central Switzerland — Zug, Schwyz, Uri, Nidwalden, Obwalden and Glarus — were in the greatest hurry to return to pre-Covid rules.
These cantons argued that a gradual lifting would be too complicated and difficult for the population to understand.
The southwestern canton of Valais preferred this approach as well, but only “as long as the number of cases and hospitalisations continue to decrease by mid-February”. Otherwise, the lifting of the measures should be done in stages.
However, Geneva, Basel-City, Neuchâtel and Jura said it was too early to lift remaining measures.
“It is too risky at the moment, given the still high load in hospitals”, according to Basel-City, which added that “the effects of the first relaxations, such as teleworking and quarantines, are also not yet known”.
Will some cantons still require a Covid certificate?
Berset clarified on Wednesday that while some cantons had argued for this as part of the consultation process (i.e. on a federal level), they would most likely not unilaterally keep the certificate rule in place from February 17th onwards.
Berset however said he would need to clarify the matter with cantonal representatives and did not rule out some cantons deciding to keep the certificate in place in some instances - for example in relation to nightclubs or large events.
As at Wednesday afternoon, no cantons have indicated they will keep the certificate requirement in place.