Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: Demonstrators protest vaccine rules in Switzerland Filed on September 8, 2021
M Sajjad

The country has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe at 52 per cent.

Thousands of people marched through the heart of Switzerland’s capital Bern on a Wednesday evening, asking the government to stop imposing vaccines on residents.

Families, professionals, young and old alike have hit the streets asking the government to stop 'the pandemic dictatorship.'

"We are a free people. This march is against dictatorship. No one can use Covid as an excuse to kill our freedom," Sarah Garcia, a Bern resident told Khaleej Times.

The anti-vaccine movement has been gathering momentum in the European country, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the continent - only 52 per cent of people are fully vaccinated in Switzerland.

"My body. My choice," said another protester. He also said he does not believe vaccines offer protection.

Kaiwan Anwar, a Swiss national who is originally from Iraq, said he joined the protests because he does not want to take the vaccine.

"The new rule mandates us to show a vaccination certificate while going to museums and restaurants. Why should I?" asked Anwar, who runs a sports supply shop in Bern.

People were carrying placards reading "Enough is enough", "Vaccines kill", and "We don't need dictatorship, bin your masks" whilst chanting anti-vaccine slogans.

However, several residents who have taken the vaccine said that vaccine sceptics were hampering global efforts to contain the pandemic.

"People are being stupid. Hundreds and thousands have died, and we are shooting at our feet by resisting vaccinations," said Jeremy, a university student.

Residents must show either their vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test, which is valid for 48 hours. People cited expensive PCR tests, which cost approximately 150 Swiss francs (Dh597), as to why they were against the new rules.

Switzerland has in the past seen many anti-vaccine protests. In a recent survey conducted asking people whether they would get vaccinated against Covid-19, over a quarter of people (28 per cent) said they would not. Nearly 47 per cent said they were hesitant, saying they would "wait and see".


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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