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Parliament clarifies federal government powers to manage Covid-19 crisis

The federal government will have more power to approve vaccines and treatments for Covid-19. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Measures put in place by the federal government to help manage the coronavirus crisis can be officially extended thanks to a decision by parliament.

On March 13, the federal government assumed some executive powers that allowed it to enact certain laws and measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. With the unanimous decision on Wednesday, parliament assured that the measures don’t expire six months later.

The measures can now be extended until the end of 2021. This concerns above all financial support for workers and companies suffering as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

Businesses hard hit by the pandemic restrictions, particularly in the events, tourism and travel sectors, can receive financial support but only if cantons apply and contribute half of the funding. The self-employed and employers will also receive support to cover loss of earnings.

Parliament also agreed that professional football and ice hockey leagues will be able to take out interest-free loans. An additional CHF20 million ($22 million) was also earmarked for cultural activities, bringing the total sum for the Federal Office of Culture to CHF100 million.

The situation at Swiss borders was also clarified, specifically that people with special ties to a border region will be able to continue to travel there in the case that new restrictions are put in place.

The federal government has been given more extensive powers in healthcare, specifically in approving vaccines and treatments for Covid-19. Parliament didn’t go as far as to allow the federal government to make vaccines mandatory.

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