EXPLAINED: How long will Switzerland keep the Covid certificate in place?

EXPLAINED: How long will Switzerland keep the Covid certificate in place?
Berset and the Health Ministry are not yet ready to lift the certificate obligation. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)
Switzerland's Covid certificate is required to access all indoor venues in Switzerland - but for how long?

When announcing the extension of the certificate at a press conference on September 8th, Health Minister Alain Berset said the obligation would be in place until at least January 24th, 2022. 

He did however say it could be lifted before January if the epidemiological situation allows it.

What conditions must be met for the Federal Council to take this step?

On September 22nd, the National Social Security and Public Health Commission (CSSS) asked the Federal Council to define the criteria for lifting the certificate obligation.

In its response, the government outlined three key benchmarks, as reported by the Swiss media.

1. More people must be vaccinated

The Federal Council is waiting to see whether the rate of inoculations goes up in the coming weeks.

Switzerland still trails behind much of Europe in terms of vaccination coverage, with about 58 percent of the population fully vaccinated versus more than 60 percent throughout the EU.

“The more people decide to get vaccinated, the lower the risk of overloading the health care system”, the government noted.

2. Fewer hospital admissions, shorter length of stay

The overload of intensive care units has been one of the primary concerns of federal authorities, especially as the number of ICU beds in Swiss hospitals is shrinking and there is shortage of qualified staff.

The situation is all the more complicated by the fact that patients in intensive care units are increasingly young.

“These people are treated for a long time, so it takes longer for the situation in hospitals to improve”, the Federal Council said. 

READ MORE: Vaccinations to hospital numbers: How the Covid situation is evolving in Switzerland

3. The weather factor

While the overall epidemiological situation in Switzerland is improving, the virus is still actively circulating among the population, according to Patrick Mathys, head of the crisis management section of the Federal Office of Public Health, who pointed out that the number of cases could go up again as colder weather drives more people indoors.

A similar situation happened in September 2020, when numbers declined before increasing sharply again, leading to a new wave in the fall and winter.

“The winter months are fast approaching and the situation could get worse again”, Mathys warned.

In short, if these various arguments are added together, the lifting of the certificate obligation is not yet on the Federal Council’s agenda.

READ MORE: Covid-19 in Switzerland: The situation is improving, but will it last?

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