Life won’t be easy for the unvaccinated, warns Swiss president

The 2G rule means only people who have a Covid certificate or who have recovered from the disease can enter public buildings such as restaurants Keystone / Michael Buholzer

People who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid-19 must expect their freedoms to be curtailed for a long time, according to Guy Parmelin, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year.

This content was published on December 12, 2021

“We don’t want compulsory vaccination in Switzerland. We have to convince people to get vaccinated,” he said in an interviewExternal link with the SonntagsZeitung. “But it must also be clear to the unvaccinated that it’s actually an act of solidarity to get vaccinated now. And if they still don’t want to get vaccinated, they have to accept that certain activities may not be possible temporarily.”

Asked what that meant concretely, Parmelin said it may come down to 2G (granting entry to indoor public places only to people who either are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or have recovered from it) having to stay longer concerning leisure and recreation.

“Just because many people still aren’t immunised, we can’t deprive of freedoms those who have been vaccinated,” he said. “With their vaccination and a booster they have done everything to protect themselves and others and to slow down the pandemic. Hopefully, this will convince many people who have been unwilling to get vaccinated to do so after all.”

Switzerland has the lowest Covid-19 vaccination rate in western Europe – a third of the Swiss population (32.2%) have not had a first dose of a Covid vaccine.

The SonntagsZeitung said 2G wasn’t particularly drastic and wondered whether Switzerland shouldn’t be following Germany’s example and introducing “2G plus” (showing a recent negative rapid antigen test as well). Isn’t that the least Switzerland should be doing?

Parmelin disagreed. Compulsory 2G, which the government has recently considered as an option, would be “very drastic” for people who have not been vaccinated, he said.

“The government now wants to know from the cantons, the political commissions and the social partners in the consultation process what they think,” he said. This policy hasn’t gone down well with the media, some of whom think there isn’t time to send policies out for consultation and that, once again, the government is doing too little, too late.

More waves

Parmelin stressed, however, that if the situation continued to worsen, the authorities could act immediately.

Why not act immediately now, the paper asked. “Because the situation throughout Switzerland with the Delta variant is not yet such that universally applicable rules have to be introduced immediately. We still know very little about Omicron. There are indications that this variant is much more contagious, but we don’t know how dangerous it is.”

And if the latest measures don’t work? Will unvaccinated people have to go into lockdown? “The government will re-assess the situation and propose the appropriate measures in due course. The fact is that we want to prevent a lockdown whenever possible. Even a partial lockdown.”

The SonntagsZeitung pointed out that the current wave would eventually be over, but without almost complete immunisation the country would have to reckon with more new waves, with many people left seriously ill or dead.

“Yes, unfortunately that’s the case,” Parmelin acknowledge. “We have to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. And, in order to curb the current wave, boost as quickly as possible. Those who simply don’t want to get vaccinated will be infected.”

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