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Swiss government under attack for Covid policy

Interior Minister Berset has again been facing criticism about the government's alleged authoritarian rule in handling the Covid crisis. Keystone/Peter Klaunzer

Parliament has criticised the Swiss government’s Covid-19 policy, notably the restrictions for businesses and citizens.

This content was published on March 17, 2021 - 15:20
swissinfo.ch/urs

The main political groups in the House of Representatives aired their grievances during a special debate on Wednesday.

The right-wing Swiss People’s Party slammed the government measures as disproportionate, undermining the responsibility of the 26 cantons, limiting personal freedoms and running up huge debts.

Other political parties focused on the government’s vaccination strategy, saying it lacked efficiency and was too slow.

The Centre Party, including the Christian Democrats, called for a national vaccination document, to be coordinated with the European Union, to ease travel restrictions.

The left-wing Social Democrats criticised the reticence to suspend the intellectual property rights of vaccines to give poorer countries access to anti-Covid technology.

Hope and concerns

Interior Minister Alain Berset, whose portfolio includes health issues, said a successful vaccination campaign was the most promising way of coping with the pandemic.

However, he warned that the increase in the number of infections and other key factors left little hope for a swift return to normality.

He said a third wave of infections could not be ruled out. On Wednesday, Switzerland recorded 1,858 new infections. The seven-day infection rate has increased 14% from a week ago.

The debate came ahead of a decision by the government on Friday on possible steps towards a further easing of restrictions, notably the opening of restaurants, cultural and sports venues, which have been shut down since measures were introduced in mid-January.

At the beginning of the current spring session nearly three weeks ago, the House approved a declaration urging the government to lift the curbs before the end of the month.

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