Swiss health minister Alain Berset has signaled that the Alpine nation’s controversial use of a Covid-19 certificate system could soon be over since the public health response to the pandemic appeared to be “on the right track.”
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The document – which indicates whether a person has been vaccinated, tested or recovered from the coronavirus and determines entry into public venues – has been in use since July 2021. But Berset suggested on Saturday that the time may have come to do away with the system.
“The certificate period seems to be almost at an end,” Berset told the Schweiz am Wochenende newspaper, adding that the country looks to be “on the right track.” But he warned that the “virus has shown itself to be unpredictable on several occasions.”
Over the last year, protests had broken out over the certificates and other restrictions in a number of cities. But after anti-lockdown groups gathered almost 200,000 signatures to force a vote on the law, a significant majority of Swiss citizens elected in December to keep the system.
Since December 20, only those vaccinated against Covid-19 or who have recovered from an infection have been allowed to enter restaurants, cultural, sporting and leisure venues and attend indoor events. In addition, private gatherings in the country have been limited to 10 people – if there is even one person aged 16 and above present who does not have a level of either natural or vaccine-acquired immunity.
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Last Wednesday, the government announced it would extend quarantine and mandatory work-from-home rules until the end of February. It also outlined tentative plans to keep other restrictions in place until March as the country fights a fifth wave of the pandemic.
Despite reports of nearly 38,000 new cases over a 24-hour period on Friday, Berset said on Saturday that the government could “transform the compulsory order to work from home into a recommendation, and end quarantines” if the situation improves over the next few weeks.