Swiss back government’s Covid passport laws in referendum despite protests

Voters in Switzerland backed the government’s pandemic strategy by a larger than anticipated majority in a referendum today.

Just under two thirds (62 per cent) voted in support of a law passed earlier this year over certificates showing proof of Covid vaccination, recent immunity or a negative test. Proof of Covid immunity is currently needed to enter bars, restaurants and some events in Switzerland. 

The law also pledged to offer financial aid to those affected by the pandemic.

In the lead to the referendum on Sunday, there had been large-scale protests amid a divisive debate. 

“We have a mutual enemy: the virus, and the virus doesn’t care about our fights,” Swiss health minister Alain Berset told a news conference today. “Now we must find our way back together, and we all have a common goal: to bring this pandemic under control.”

He said it was time to move on following the referendum, particularly as nations face a fresh challenge from the Omicron variant. The country was among those to introduce new travel restrictions following alarm over the variant’s potential ability to evade vaccines. 

It comes as three cases of the new variant have been confirmed in the UK as face mask rules will be re-introduced in England from next week.

The latest case has been linked to travel to southern Africa, where the variant was identified, but the individual was no longer in the UK, the Health Security Agency confirmed today.

Two other cases have been confirmed in Brentwood, Essex and Nottingham. They are thought to be linked to travel with South Africa.

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