Swiss voters set to support Covid-19 passes for bars, restaurants

A poster reading: "Discrimination against people? No to COVID restriction tightening" near Oberwil-Lieli in Switzerland on Nov 16, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

BERN (BLOOMBERG) - The majority of Swiss are in favour of a law that permits the mandatory use of Covid-19 certificates for access to indoor spaces and events as Europe battles a winter surge in infections.

Some 61 per cent of voters back a referendum, which also covers financial pandemic relief, according to a poll for broadcaster SRG published on Wednesday (Nov 17). About 38 per cent were against it, while 1 per cent remained undecided.

The vote takes place on Nov 28.

The certificates, which show a person has either been fully inoculated, tested negative or recovered from past infection, have been a polarising topic among the Swiss since they were introduced in September - and especially since the government stopped offering free testing for those without symptoms.

Opponents have held regular protests, arguing that the passes lead to discrimination and represent a back-door vaccine mandate.

The government has said they are necessary to curb infections amid a lagging vaccination rate and to avoid renewed lockdowns.

The vote occurs at a time when Europe has become the epicentre of the pandemic again. Neighbour Austria has ordered police to enforce a lockdown on unvaccinated people, and Germany is planning to impose similar restrictions on those who have refused to get inoculated.

Switzerland is behind many other European countries in vaccination rates, with less than 65 per cent fully immunised. Infections in the country of 8.5 million people have been on a steady rise since mid-October, reaching 4,297 new cases on Nov 16, compared with numbers below 3,000 early November.

A vote to improve work conditions for health-care staff is also set to be waved through, while a proposal to change the way federal judges are selected is likely to fail, according to the survey.

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