For members


Why Swiss officials are fearing a ‘revolution of the vaccinated’

According to an internal report, the Swiss government is fearful of protests among the vaccinated. Here’s why.

Why Swiss officials are fearing a ‘revolution of the vaccinated’
Should vaccinated people be upset if they need to lockdown again due to anti-vaxxers? Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Protests have been common since the early days of the pandemic. 

Whether these have been against the measures, against the vaccine for the virus or even denying the existence of the virus themselves, these protests have largely been populated by conspiracy theorists and far-right groups. 

However, according to a new internal government report, Switzerland is fearing an uprising of those who have already been vaccinated. 

Why are Swiss authorities fearing a “revolution of the vaccinated”? 

So why would people who acknowledge the existence of the virus and understand its dangers enough to get vaccinated start to protest? 

READ MORE: How to register for the coronavirus vaccine in your Swiss canton

According to the leaked report, the reason is simple: vaccinated people may become increasingly upset when they are required to adopt harsher lockdown measures primarily because large sections of the population continue to refuse to be vaccinated. 

Officials are concerned about a rise in infections, hospitalisations and even deaths in autumn when the weather turns colder and people return from summer vacations. 

The “new wave” of the virus is likely to be exacerbated by the fact that fewer people have been vaccinated than Switzerland expected, while the Delta variant is spreading much faster than had been expected. 

Due to this it will be “very difficult to prevent a renewed increase in hospital occupancy due to Covid-19 in the hospitals in autumn”. 

As a consequence, Switzerland is mulling additional restrictions in order to curb the rising case rates, including strict lockdowns. 

This is expected to cause concern among those who have already been vaccinated, primarily because only those who have decided not to get vaccinated are likely to be hit hard by another wave of the virus. 

The leaked document predicts “further protests” if lockdowns are reintroduced, “probably also among the vaccinated part of the population”, which Swiss media is calling “a revolution of the vaccinated”. 

With just under 50 percent of people fully vaccinated in Switzerland – and a further six percent having received their first shot – almost half of the Swiss population remains unvaccinated, amounting to a total of around three million people. 

Evidence from Europe and elsewhere shows that while those who have been vaccinated can contract the virus again, they are hit by comparatively milder symptoms. 

They can however carry and transmit the virus in some cases, which would place those who have not been vaccinated – particularly those who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons – at a greater risk if lockdown measures are not reintroduced. 

As reported by The Local Switzerland in early August, prominent Swiss epidemiologists are calling for measures to be further relaxed, including the mask mandate for shops, supermarkets and museums. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland relax the mask mandate in supermarkets, shops and museums?

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset however said that he was reluctant to endorse such a policy change, particularly with case numbers currently on the rise. 

What measures could be introduced in autumn?  

At a press conference on Tuesday, August 3rd, Swiss authorities said they were considering which measures could be reintroduced should case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths rise again in August. 

The goal of reintroduced measures would be to ensure the health care system is not overloaded, said Lukas Engelberger, the president of the cantonal health directors. 

“When it gets cooler outside, we will see whether we are well positioned,” Engelberger said. 

However, the government was reluctant to indicate which measures could be tightened, however the government indicated it would consider putting in place different rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people when everyone had the chance to get the vaccine. 

This might include requiring vaccinations for certain activities, rather than also allowing for negative tests and proof of recovery from the virus as is currently allowed in Switzerland. 

“It can become a topic that only those who have recovered and who have been vaccinated have access to major events. Otherwise testing becomes the new vaccination, and that’s not good,” said National Councilor Lorenz Hess. 

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For members


Why you might be stopped by the police in Switzerland

It goes without saying that you don’t want to attract the attention of law enforcement officers, regardless of your nationality. Here’s what you should know about the reasons you might be stopped in Switzerland.

Why you might be stopped by the police in Switzerland

One thing to know is that in many cases being questioned by police has nothing to do with your nationality.

For instance, you may be stopped while driving (along with other motorists) for a random identity and sobriety check, or you could be asked questions because you have witnessed a crime or a road accident.

In both of these cases, you have nothing to be concerned about — provided you are in Switzerland legally and have not committed any infractions yourself.

A different type of situation may arise if someone reports you as a law-breaker.

Whether you are guilty or innocent, police will have to question you to find out if accusations against you are true.

This is undeniably an unpleasant process through which you must go, even if you are innocent of all charges.

If this happens to you, go to the police station when summoned, bring any pertinent documents you need, and answer any questions truthfully — just as you would in your own country.

READ ALSO: Five Swiss laws foreigners are bound to commit

If you are not proficient enough in your canton’s language, inform the police ahead of time and they will provide an interpreter.

Depending on how the case evolves, you may need an attorney to represent you, which the court will appoint free of charge if you are unable to afford one yourself and don’t have legal insurance.

READ MORE: Why you need ‘legal protection insurance’ in Switzerland

Are there situations when you may be targeted specifically because you are a foreigner?

Yes, and these are the possible scenarios:

On the road

You are driving a car with a foreign registration, which corresponds to a vehicle being sought by police. In such a case you’d be pulled over and your documents would be checked to verify your identity.

You could be stopped for a random road check. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

You are in Switzerland illegally and are caught

If this happens, police will come knocking on your door and you’ll likely be given a certain period of time to leave the country or face deportation.

READ ALSO: When can a foreigner be ordered to leave Switzerland? 

You are sought by your nation of origin for crimes you committed there

Swiss police will extradite you back to your home country. (However, Switzerland doesn’t extradite for political offences, such as dissension, for instance, but only for criminal ones).

There are other situations as well when you might be breaking the law, even if inadvertently.

You drive on a Swiss motorway without a sticker

Unlike in Italy, France, and many other countries, Switzerland doesn’t have tolls — that is, roads where you have to stop and pay for using the road.

Instead, it has a motorway vignette, purchased annually, for 40 francs.

If you don’t have one affixed to your windshield and and are stopped by police, you could be fined 200 francs.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Switzerland’s motorway charge sticker

By the same token, you could be fined for noncomplying with a myriad of other driving rules, including some truly wacky ones, like eating a croissant behind the wheel of your car or taking your feet off the pedal while cycling.

Not recycling / disposing of your trash properly

If you are a new arrival, you may not yet know that the Swiss have very strict rules about how to pack and dispose of your waste in a correct manner.

You can’t just put it into a bag and throw it out haphazardly. Instead, you must use taxed bags (different for each canton), and put your trash away on designated days and in designated spots only.

If you fail to do so, you will be found out and fined, with the amount determined by your municipality.

This is definitely a ‘punishable’ offence. Photo: Pixabay

READ ALSO: What are Switzerland’s rules for waste disposal and recycling?

These are the legitimate reasons a foreigner would be stopped by Swiss police. But there are others as well:

Racial profiling

This happens when race or ethnicity are used as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offence.

This act is officially illegal, as Swiss legislation prohibits discrimination based on ethnic origin, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation. 

There have, however, been instances when Swiss law enforcement officers have been accused of this practice.

One thing to keep in mind, whether you are Swiss or foreigner, is that police in Switzerland can’t arbitrarily ask a person to see their ID; they can only do so if there are reasonable grounds for such a request.

If that happens, you should always comply — even if you believe police are targetting you unjustifiably.