Voters in Switzerland gave a green light to legislation which would introduce a COVID-19 certificate system, where people can only attend public events or gatherings if they are vaccinated, test negative, or have recovered from the coronavirus.
The legislation, which is already in place, received backing from 62% of voters in Switzerland. The vote was viewed as a chance for the public to weigh in on the government’s approach to fighting the spread of coronavirus.
The legislation also frees billions of Swiss francs (dollars) in aid for businesses and workers who have been impacted by the pandemic.
Only two cantons (states) in Switzerland voted against the referendum, Schwyz and Appenzell Innerrhoden.
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People protest during a rally of opponents of the COVID-19 law, in Bern, Switzerland, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. Swiss voters appear set to approve by a clear margin legislation which introduced a special COVID-19 certificate that lets only people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative attend public events and gatherings. (Anthony Anex/Keystone via AP) ((Anthony Anex/Keystone via AP))
The vote comes at a time where coronavirus cases are on the rise in Switzerland.
Currently, Switzerland is adding 5,141 new coronavirus cases per day on average, according to Reuters. Over 65% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.
Prior to the referendum vote, some Swiss analysts said that if voters approve the legislation, the government could be open to doing more in the fight against coronavirus.
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Voters cast their ballots at a polling station, for three national bills, including the COVID-19 law, and several cantonal and communal proposals, at the Zurich City Hall in Zurich, Switzerland, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. Swiss voters appear set to approve by a clear margin legislation which introduced a special COVID-19 certificate that lets only people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative attend public events and gatherings. (Michael Buholzer/Keystonve via AP) ((Michael Buholzer/Keystonve via AP))
“A decision has been made and we must come together now to get through this winter as well as possible,” Swiss health minister Alain Berset said. “This is an appeal for unity but also for respect for decisions that have been taken.”
Berset said that the vote means authorities “still have the necessary instruments to manage the crisis, and we can, if necessary, adjust the instruments to developments.”
Turnout for the referendum was at 65.7%, which is considered high as the country has multiple referendum votes per year.
The vote comes just after the World Health Organization designated the COVID-19 omicron variant a “Variant of Concern” after it was first reported to the health agency from South Africa on Nov. 24.
According to the WHO, the omicron variant has a “large number of mutations,” and noted that some are concerning.
(From L) World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme Director Michael Ryan, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Technical Lead Maria Van Kerkhove attend attend a daily press briefing on COVID-19 at the WHO headquaters on March 6, 2020 in Geneva. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
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One South African doctor who first alerted authorities about the new omicron variant claims that it is displaying “unusual but mild” symptoms in patients, according to The Telegraph.
“It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well,” Dr. Angelique Coetzee explained. “So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer the loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home.”
The Associated Press and Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this report.