GENEVA (AP) — A move by Swiss police in a resort town to shutter a restaurant because its owners flouted a government requirement to check patrons’ COVID-19 passes has again brought to the forefront tensions with some people who view such measures as infringing on civil rights.
Swiss media reported on Monday that police in Zermatt, a resort town at the foot of the famed Matterhorn peak, swept into the 19th century Walliserkanne restaurant a day earlier and sealed it off after its owners had defied a closure order and kept serving.
The three owners who were taken into custody, had reportedly transformed a stack of cinder blocks that police had used to block off the front entrance into a makeshift bar and let patrons to enter from the back.
The showdown points to renewed tensions in Switzerland and beyond over government measures aimed to fight the coronavirus pandemic that some people claim are treading on civil liberties. The reports said dozens of people over the weekend turned out at the restaurant to protest the arrests.
Police in the southern Wallis region said in a statement that the three restaurateurs refused to close the eatery despite authorities’ efforts to engage in dialogue with them and ignored several warnings to respect the health measures.
Switzerland, like some other European countries, has taken a number of steps to fight the pandemic such as the requirement for restaurant managers to request proof of vaccination, recent recovery from the illness or current negative tests before serving patrons.
The rich Alpine country of about 8.5 million people whose ski slopes and winter sports are a key draw for tourists has reported an average of about 1,300 new cases of COVID-19 in recent days, up from around 870 in mid-October, though average daily deaths have been under 10 since early April.