Swiss to hold referendum on government’s power to impose lockdown restrictions

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A Swiss national referendum will be hosted on whether there should be limits on the government’s power to impose lockdown measures after a campaign group gathered signatures to repeal the 2020 Covid-19 Act earlier this year.

Financial Times reported that the campaign group, Friends of the Constitution, collected 86 000 signatures over a period of three months, far exceeding the 50 000 signatures required to formally initiate a vote.

Board member Christoph Pflunger told FT that they believe the government is using the pandemic to gain more control and have less democracy. He adds that crisis management cannot take place without the will of the people, who he says is sovereign.

The Swiss Sotomo Research Institute found in November than more than half of the country was concerned about the government restricting their individual freedoms through lockdown measures.

In December the country shut down restaurants, bars, leisure facilities and shops selling goods considered as non-essential until the end of February.

Sam Jones writes that prior to the enforcement of the Covid-19 Act in September, the Epidemics Act only allowed authorities to restrict public life through unilateral emergency decrees. These were time-limited and required heavy parliamentary supervision. The new Act, however, gave authorities the legal footing to manage the Covid-19 virus in the country.

The vote is reported to be scheduled for early June, where the result will be legally binding.