Hundreds of people carrying torches and Swiss flags marched through a city in the Zurich region of Switzerland, denouncing the possible introduction of Covid health passes.
Among the slogans heard during the march on Tuesday evening was “peace, freedom, the people are sovereign”. Idiosyncratic bell ringers and drummers were also present at the rally – a common feature at events like this in Switzerland in recent months.
The protests came just days before Sunday’s referendum, in which the Swiss will decide whether or not the Alpine country should introduce Covid passes. Tuesday’s rally went off without incident, with protesters sticking to designated pedestrian areas.
Similar demonstrations also took place last Saturday in the cities of Zurich and Lausanne, in the presence of several thousand people. Other protests like this in recent months have resulted in violent clashes with police.
In Bern, fences were erected to prevent protesters from accessing government and parliament grounds. Swiss authorities have also had to provide additional security to a number of officials, including the country’s health minister, who has reportedly been the target of insults and even death threats.
According to a recent poll, 61% of the country’s population is in favor of amendments that would allow authorities to introduce health passes.
Even though 65% of the population is fully vaccinated, Switzerland has been witnessing an upsurge in Covid cases for a few weeks.
However, the country’s government has so far not imposed further restrictions nationwide, arguing that the situation differs from region to region. According to them, the decision whether or not to put in place new borders will be up to the local authorities. In a statement released on Wednesday, however, the Swiss government warned that it was closely monitoring developments as they could worsen in the coming weeks.
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