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Hundreds protest Covid restrictions in Switzerland

Around 500 demonstrators wearing protective suits marched through the Swiss tax haven of Zug on Saturday to protest against the government's Covid restrictions.

Hundreds protest Covid restrictions in Switzerland
Protestors in Zug, Switzerland on Saturday 6 February 2021. Photo: Twitter user @tinu661

The demonstration was similar to a rally a week ago in Vienna, where thousands of protesters opposed to Austria's lockdown and called on the government to resign.

Though Switzerland’s restrictions have been less severe than those in Germany, Austria or Italy – restaurants and non-essential shops are closed but ski areas are open – there is still noticeable opposition.

In Zug, police watched but did not intervene as a group of protesters marched from the train station to the centre of the lakeside city, known its attractive tax rates.

Marchers wore placards that read “Wearing a mask is modern slavery”. A loudspeaker droned, “Closeness is dangerous” and “Denounce those you love”.

 

“I want to make a statement, that the citizens are the ones who are in control, and the state should be there to serve its citizens,” one man told Reuters, without giving his name.

A woman said she was there for the next generation.

“I'm a grandmother,” she told the news agency. “I don't want my grandchildren to grow up in a world where so much is forbidden.”

Earlier this week, coronavirus sceptics in Switzerland were refusing to pay their mandatory TV licence fees due to the media's coverage of the pandemic.

Switzerland's health minister Alain Berset said last week the government planned to keep existing restrictions in place until at least the end of the month, and potentially longer, as more infectious coronavirus variants spread.

READ ALSO: Swiss Health Minister: 'No relaxation of coronavirus measures in February'

COVID cases in Switzerland have dropped since hitting their peak late last year, though there were more than 1,500 new infections on Friday. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 530,000 Swiss have been infected and almost 9,000 have died.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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