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Zermatt restaurant operators in prison after defying Covid rules

Source: Twitter

Over the weekend the owners of a family-run restaurant were taken into police custody for defiantly operating their restaurant in contravention of Switzerland’s Covid rules, reported 20 Minutes.

On Saturday 30 October 2021, the police arrested the operators of the Walliserkanne restaurant in Zermatt. Three family members, a mother, father and son were arrested on Saturday morning and taken into custody.

The restaurant operators had refused to check whether their diners had valid Covid certificates, something that has been a legal requirement in Switzerland since 13 September 2021.

The arrest followed repeated defiance of police requests. On Friday, the police closed the restaurant at the behest of the cantonal government because the operator was not checking Covid certificates, reported the Police.

Later in the day, ignoring the closure order, the restaurant’s boss reopened. In response, the police closed it again and had large concrete blocks placed in front of the establishment. However, the boss of the restaurant opened it once more on Saturday morning announcing with a microphone that the establishment was open for business. In exasperation, the police arrested the man and his parents and placed them in custody. The arrest was resisted and resulted in injury, according to various media reports.

The man at the centre of the conflict and his brother have been open about their anti-Covid beliefs, reported the newspaper Blick. The restaurant’s website says: we welcome everyone, also without certificate.

Over the weekend, the arrest became a rallying point for hundreds of protesters, including members of the Freiheitstrychler (cowbell ringers) and Mass-Voll groups, who assembled outside the restaurant. These groups have been present at numerous anti-Covid protests across Switzerland.

Anyone can get a certificate either by showing proof of prior infection, proof of vaccination, which is free, or proof of a recent negative test, which was free until 10 October 2021 but is now chargeable.

According to a survey by RTS published last week, 61% of Switzerland’s population are in favour of Covid certificates. However, a vocal portion of those against them has been actively protesting across the country, describing the certificates as discriminatory.

The situation has placed the government in a difficult position where it is unable to simultaneously please those who favour the certificates and those who do not. While the judiciary and police are required to ensure the population complies with laws made by Switzerland’s democratically elected parliament.

On 28 November 2021, the Swiss population will vote in a referendum on Switzerland’s Covid laws1. The latest polls suggest a majority of voters support them. The government will be hoping that Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, which gives voters the final word, brings some closure to the discord.

1In September 2020, parliament passed a package of Covid-19 laws. These laws were challenged by a referendum on 13 June 2021 and accepted by 60% of voters. On March 2021, parliament passed additional Covid-19 laws, which included laws to introduce Covid certificates. The vote on 28 November 2021 aims to overturn the additional March 2021 Covid-19 laws.

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Le News
The newspaper Le News is a free, quality, local English language newspaper launched on 31 October 2013. Le News fills a gap in local Swiss media for the numerous English-speakers living and visiting Switzerland. In late January 2015 we decided to put our print medium on hold and focus on our digital media presence.
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