Speed Reads

Swiss miss their chance

Swiss voters uphold COVID restrictions, approve increased healthcare funding

Swiss voters rejected a referendum that would have repealed some of the country's COVID-19 restrictions, the BBC reports. Switzerland's current law, which requires a vaccination certificate or negative COVID test for entry into many public spaces, will remain in effect.

Over 60 percent of voters voted "no" on the referendum. Although most of the country's major political parties supported the restrictions, the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party opposed them, as did some left-wing activists, Politico reports.

Switzerland is currently experiencing record-high infection rates similar to those affecting Germany and Austria. About two-thirds of the population has been vaccinated. So far, Switzerland has been spared the strict lockdowns neighboring countries have implemented, but the results of today's referendum could embolden the federal government to tighten restrictions.

Voters also approved a measure that would increase health-care funding and improve working conditions for Swiss nurses. Around 10 percent of the country's nurses and other healthcare workers have quit since the beginning of the pandemic, and those who stayed on the job have been suffering from burnout as they struggle to keep up with the exploding number of COVID cases.

Switzerland practices a form of semi-direct democracy in which an unusually high number of legislative and constitutional measures are approved or rejected via referendum.