Swiss voters appear ready to support COVID-19 response plan

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss voters appeared likely to support the government’s pandemic response plan in a referendum on Sunday, paving the way for continued exceptional measures to stem the rising tide of COVID-19 cases.

The first government counts from Sunday’s polls showed that just over 60% of the vote so far supports the law passed this year to provide financial assistance to those affected by the COVID-19 crisis and to demand proof vaccination, recovery or negative test to enter bars, restaurants and certain events.

Restrictions on public life to fight coronavirus infections have sparked opposition in Switzerland, triggering a binding referendum under the country’s direct democracy system, even as cases have reached levels the government has deemed this week “reviews”.

The government has strayed widely from tightening measures despite cases approaching record highs, but on Friday and Saturday it imposed new travel restrictions to stem the spread of the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus that has sparked global concern.

A November 7 poll found that opposition to the government’s COVID-19 law had increased, with 38% saying they opposed the law.

In two more referendum votes on Sunday, the first tally showed nearly 60% approval for a union-backed proposal to support nurses while more than 68% of voters rejected a proposal to select federal judges by drawing of lots from a group of candidates proposed by experts.

For referendum motions to be adopted, they must obtain a simple majority of the votes cast nationally while also securing the support of a majority of cantons or regions.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, editing by Louise Heavens and David Goodman)

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