© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Bern
ZURICH (Reuters) – A group of Swiss business leaders and lawmakers called on the government to speed up vaccinations and develop a plan for their nationwide test drive to combat the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The Alliance for a Liberal Health System sent an open letter to the government on Sunday asking for an improvement in Switzerland's response to the crisis.
"The government is failing in crisis management and has to improve," said Felix Schneuwly, Vice President of Allianz.
"Every part of the testing and vaccination programs are delayed and not properly implemented," he told Reuters.
The tiredness about the ongoing restrictions and their effects on social and economic life in Switzerland is increasing. Protests take place on weekends.
Switzerland and neighboring Liechtenstein have reported nearly 581,000 cases of COVID-19 since the crisis began, with 9,509 people dead. The number of cases has accelerated in the past few days, with new variants of the virus spreading, causing the number of daily cases to be 32% above the seven-day average.
The cases are also increasing in neighboring Germany. According to the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week on Sunday was 103.9 and thus above the 100 threshold at which intensive care units can no longer keep up.
The Swiss government on Friday postponed plans to reopen restaurant terraces and enable outdoor events with limited audiences, citing the increase in cases and insufficient progress on vaccinations.
The alliance includes legislators from the right-wing Free Liberal Party and the Swiss People's Party as well as leaders of the Swiss Hotel Association, the GastroSuisse restaurant association and the Economiesuisse group of companies.
Fearing that the government may miss its target of vaccinating everyone in Switzerland by the end of June, following recent comments in parliament, they urged them to step up their efforts to achieve the goal.
The group also wants the government to come up with a plan by the end of March on how to conduct the free coronavirus tests it announced for all residents.
"The uncontrolled use of the tests must be prevented as it would render the entire process unusable," the group said in their letter.
The uncoordinated distribution of tests "can even be counterproductive as it can lead users into a false sense of security," she added.
The group also called for a nationwide uniform system for entering test results and vaccinations in order to create forgery-proof COVID-free certificates.
Such certificates could make it easier to lift restrictions on people who are free of the virus or who have been vaccinated, Schneuwly said.
The Swiss cabinet has not yet been able to examine the letter and does not respond publicly to letters, said a government spokeswoman.
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