Another rejection for planned Covid protest march

Silent protestors at an event in Wohlen, canton Bern, in February. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Authorities in the north-eastern Swiss town of Rapperswil have turned down an application for a Covid-19 demonstration next month – the second refusal for a march following a large gathering at Liestal in canton Basel Country ten days ago.

This content was published on March 30, 2021 - 15:12

Members of the “Stiller Protest” (Silent Protest) group had hoped to hold a protest in the St Gallen town on April 24, as the latest in a line of protests which have been growing in size.

However, local authorities on Tuesday rejected the idea, saying that not only were current Covid case numbers going up in the country, but that experience of recent demonstrations showed that sanitary rules (social distancing and mask-wearing) are not respected by participants.

On March 20, some 8,000 people showed up in Liestal in canton Basel Country for a protest march organised by the same group; there, coronavirus measures were barely respected, the Rapperswil authorities said in their rejection note on Tuesday.

The Rapperswil authorities also said that the projected 1,000 participants cited as an estimate by the applicants was “clearly too low”.

Since the first event organised by “Stiller Protest” last October, where 50 people showed up in Zurich, their geographic reach and numbers have been growing almost exponentially. A fortnight ago, 4,000 people marched in Chur in Canton Graubünden.

The current decision also comes after a rejection, last week, by authorities in the central canton of Uri of an anti-Covid demonstration which was to be held on farmland on April 10. There, some 10,000 people were projected to turn up.

Current Covid situation

Under current Covid-19 rules in Switzerland, outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people are permitted in public. Larger political demonstrations are allowed, provided they receive the go-ahead from local authorities. Private gatherings are limited to 10 people.

Patrick Mathys, head of crisis management at the Federal Office of Public Health, told a press conference on Tuesday that the virus situation in Switzerland was “uncertain”.

“Unfortunately, the number of cases in Switzerland continues to rise; hospitalisations and deaths are currently relatively stable,” he said.

The number of new infections has risen slowly since the end of February. On Tuesday, the number of confirmed new cases of coronavirus in Switzerland was reported to be 1,923. The seven-day average (1,782) was up by 19% on the same day last week. The reproduction rate stands at 1.19.

Just over half a million Swiss residents are fully vaccinated, around 6.2% of the population.

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