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What was on the agenda for voters on June 18, 2023

Swiss voters approve Covid-19 law for third time

Covid-19 health worker cleans hospital bed.
The extension of the Covid-19 law, which voters backed on Sunday, allows the authorities to act quickly in the event of an emergency to protect public health and particularly vulnerable people, say its supporters. Keystone / Pablo Gianinazzi

A clear majority of citizens has backed an extension of Switzerland’s emergency Covid-19 law until 2024. It is the third time that a referendum opposing Covid-19 legislation has been rejected at the ballot box. 

In all, 61.9% of voters on Sunday approved an extension of the country’s emergency Covid-19 law, according to the final results.


“With Covid-19, we are continuing to ensure that the authorities can act quickly in the event of an emergency to protect public health and particularly vulnerable people,” declared Centre Party parliamentarian Lorenz Hess after the result. 

Covid-19 is already ancient history for many people: the government lifted the last sanitary measures a little over a year ago, and in everyday life the number of people wearing masks on public transport has dwindled. But a decision last December by parliament to extend the validity of the Covid-19 law until June 2024 sparked opposition and a referendum launched by two citizens’ movements – Mass-Voll and Amis de la Constitution. 


These groups had particularly disagreed with the legal provisions governing the issuing of Covid certificates and the SwissCovid contact-tracing mobile application.  

The federal law also addresses the rules governing foreigners and cross-border employees during periods of border closures, regulations to protect vulnerable individuals, and support for the development of medicines to treat Covid-19. 

Opponents claimed that the measures in the law caused conflict and are discriminatory. 


All political parties campaigned in favour of the law except for the right-wing People’s Party. 

The government and supporters said the extension of the legislation gives the government a legal basis for reinstating proven measures in case a new wave of infections occurs. It allows authorities to react quickly to protect vulnerable people and give additional support to the healthcare system. 

Happy with result

Swiss parliamentarian Brigitte Crottaz said she was pleased with Sunday’s result. 

“I would have liked the result to have been better, but I’m satisfied,” she told the Keystone-SDA news agency. The result reflects the mood of the population, she noted. 

The left-wing Green Party tweeted that the clear result is also a rejection of the referendum campaign, “which was marked by untruths and anxiety-provoking scenarios”. 

In concrete terms, under the extended law the Covid certificate or the contract-tracing software could be reactivated if necessary. The law also guarantees international compatibility of the Covid certificate to allow ease of travel to countries that might require one. 

The extended measures would also allow for the importing and use of medicines for severe cases of Covid, even if they have not yet been formally authorised for use in the Swiss market. 

Not that bad…

Jean-Luc Addor, a parliamentarian from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, tried to look for the positives following Sunday’s result. 

Part of the population still has no confidence in the federal government’s measures to combat the coronavirus, he told Swiss public radio, RTS. “Forty percent of the population remains against it,” he said. 

“The message today is that the Federal Council [the Swiss government] can keep the option of resurrecting tracking applications and the discriminatory tool known as the health pass,” Addor complained. 

A possible 4th vote?

The Swiss are the only people in the world who have been able to vote on laws around the management of the pandemic. This is the third time that Swiss voters have decided in favour of Swiss Covid-19 legislation following ballots in June 2021 (with 60.2%) and November 2021 (62%). 

This third “yes” vote is “proof of confidence in the federal authorities and cantons’ pandemic management policy”, said the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors. 

Validating the extension of measures will provide better protection for vulnerable people. Even though the acute phase of the pandemic is behind us, the virus remains unpredictable, it said. 

Roland Bühlmann, co-chair of Friends of the Constitution, one of the main opposition groups, said he was disappointed by the outcome. He said a fourth vote on the issue could not be ruled out if the pandemic control measures were extended beyond mid-2024. 


Hosted by: Isabelle Bannerman

What do you think about voting on the same issues multiple times?

Swiss citizens on Sunday voted on the Covid-19 law for a third time. In Switzerland, citizens can contest existing laws by initiating a referendum.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR