Swiss cops put concrete blocks outside bar in Covid passport row

Swiss cops install huge concrete blocks in front of bar in top ski resort after it refused to enforce the country’s Covid passport measures

  • Covid passports have been required for Swiss indoor venues since last month
  • But the owners of Walliserkanne failed to comply repeatedly, local reports said
  • Police officials put concrete blocks outside the restaurant to block the entrance
  • The owners reportedly turned them into a makeshift bar and continued serving
  • The three owners were later arrested and could face a fine or even jail time

Police in Switzerland have installed huge concrete blocks in front of a bar in a popular ski resort after it refused to enforce the country’s Covid passport mandate.

Covid certificates – which prove someone has either been been fully vaccinated, recovered from the virus or tested negative for it – have been required to eat and drink inside indoor venues in Switzerland since mid-September.

But the owners of the Walliserkanne restaurant in the mountain resort of Zermatt had repeatedly failed to comply with the mandate, according to local reports.   

People walk past a sign that informs them that the restaurant is closed in front of the restaurant ‘Walliserkanne’ after the restaurant was closed and the owners were arrested by the police for not respecting the Covid-19 law, in the mountain resort of Zermatt, Switzerland, 01 November 2021. The large concrete blocks were placed by the police to block the entrance

Covid certificates have been required to eat and drink inside indoor venues in Switzerland since mid-September. But the owners of the Walliserkanne restaurant in Zermatt (pictured on Monday) repeatedly refused to comply with the mandate, according to local reports

Police in Zermatt, a resort town at the foot of the famed Matterhorn peak, reportedly swept into the 19th century Walliserkanne restaurant and sealed it off after its owners had defied a closure order and kept serving.

The three owners, who were arrested and taken into custody on Sunday, had transformed the stack of cinder blocks that police had used to block off the front entrance into a makeshift bar and allowed patrons to enter from the back. 

During the police operation, one of three owners is said to have threatened law enforcement at the scene, saying that he would get his gun.

In Switzerland, jail terms can be handed to businesses failing to comply with Covid certificate requirements. 

However, Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes was told by a legal expert that jail terms appeared unlikely in this case.

Another option could be a fine of CHF 10,000 that can be levied.  

Swiss media reported that police in Zermatt, a resort town at the foot of the famed Matterhorn peak, swept into the 19th century Walliserkanne restaurant (pictured on Monday) and sealed it off after its owners had defied a closure order and kept serving

A police officer stands outside the restaurant ‘Walliserkanne’, in the mountain resort of Zermatt, Switzerland, Monday, November 1, 2021

Pictures of the blocks have since gone viral on social media, with supporters of the restaurant sharing images of the concrete in front of the restaurant.

The showdown points to renewed tensions in Switzerland and beyond over government measures aimed at fighting the coronavirus pandemic that some people claim are treading on civil liberties.

The reports said dozens of people turned out at the restaurant to protest over the arrests.

Police in the southern Valais 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. 

Pictured: An employee of the Zermatt municipality covers anti-coronavirus slogans with black paint on concrete blocks placed in front of the entrance of the restaurant ‘Walliserkanne’ after the restaurant was closed and the owners were arrested by the police for not respecting the Covid-19 law, in the mountain resort of Zermatt, Switzerland, 01 November 2021

The three owners, who were arrested and taken into custody on Sunday, had reportedly transformed a stack of cinder blocks that police had used to block off the front entrance (pictured on Monday) into a makeshift bar and allowed patrons to enter from the back

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.

The ski season in Zermatt is set to start on December 4.

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