No tougher Swiss coronavirus curbs for now despite rising cases

ZURICH (Reuters) -Switzerland will not tighten curbs on public life for now despite rising coronavirus cases, the government said on Wednesday, reserving the right to make people show a COVID-status certificate to access many indoor spaces.

FILE PHOTO: Guests sit outside of a restaurant, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in the old town of Zurich, May 22, 2021. Picture taken May 22, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The government had signalled such a move last week when it ordered millions more doses of COVID-19 vaccine for possible use as booster shots, amid concerns that a rising number of serious cases could soon overwhelm hospitals.

“The number of hospital admissions of coronavirus patients remains high, but has not increased in the last week. Therefore, the (cabinet) has not yet decided (on widening use of certificates) today,” a government statement said on Wednesday.

It would decide on measures to relieve hospitals “at any time should this become necessary”, it added.

The certificate provides proof of vaccination, recovery from infection or a negative test result.

President Guy Parmelin acknowledged at a news conference in Bern that the government’s plans had provoked a lively debate about how far it should intrude into people’s lives, but appealed for national unity.

“The enemy remains the virus, not fellow citizens of a different opinion,” he said.

The number of new infections here in Switzerland and tiny neighbour Liechtenstein has picked up again to surpass 780,000 since the pandemic began. The death toll has exceeded 10,500.

Just over half the Swiss population has been fully vaccinated, Health Minister Alain Berset said last week, but a third of adults remained unjabbed. He pointed to lower vaccination rates than in neighbouring countries.

The government also unveiled an extra 60 million Swiss francs ($65.5 million) in support for the hard-hit tourism sector, aiming to boost demand and encourage innovation.

The state is providing around 17 billion francs in coronavirus relief in 2021, around the same as in 2020. That has helped pushed the public sector financing deficit to around 2.2% of economic output this year.

Public finances are set to return to the black next year.

($1 = 0.9168 Swiss francs)

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