Who is responsible if the crown waves will be more?

The federal government and the cantons disagree on who should intervene if the number of cases increases again. However, the Federal Council does not want to consider this issue.

Federal Council member Alain Berset and Luc Engelberger, President of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors.

Federal Council member Alain Berset and Luc Engelberger, President of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors.

Peter Clowner / Keystone

It sounded so good. The joint document, approved unanimously by the Federal Council and the cantonal governments, should set out responsibilities for further combating the coronavirus. Quite often during a pandemic, both levels of government argued over who was responsible for what. 2020 in the fall, the federal black Peter game had serious consequences – a second wave of crowns with many casualties. In order to avoid further quarrels, the joint document wanted to clarify the rules of the game for the next few months.

Nothing will come of it. On Wednesday, the Federal Council decided to adopt the document – but not in conjunction with the cantons, but as a unilateral statement of intent by the federal government. It has already been shown that a clear majority of cantonal governments disagreed with the letter from the Department of Health, Alain Berset. During the consultation, they called for substantial improvements. They first demanded that the federal government continue to assume a greater share of responsibility if the number of cases increased again.

Given the open disagreements, Federal Councilor Berset and the cantons could be expected to discuss the matter and reach a compromise. But now it is not. In fact, the Federal Council decided on Wednesday to allow the matter to be dealt with without clarification.

The cantons should coordinate

As a result, one question remains unanswered: who should take action if, for example, infections increase again at the end of the summer? From the point of view of the Federal Council, the cantons clearly have a duty. Mandatory masks, event bans, mandatory certificates, closures: From now on, all these measures should be decided by one canton if the situation so requires. The Federal Council also considers that it would not make sense to apply the mask requirement only in individual cantons. Nevertheless, he disclaims his responsibility. Instead, he calls on the cantons to coordinate at regional or national level.

The Federal Council does not categorically rule out the need to reactivate itself. But the hurdle he sets is quite high: according to his document, the country needs to start a “particularly strong pandemic wave” that puts more strain on the health system than all previous waves for Federal Bern to take on. again the same measures. The Federal Council wants to deal with anything below this threshold according to the “normal situation” rules, which means that only the cantons are responsible.

You have to expect differences

The cantons disagree. The Conference of Directors of Health (GDK) recalls that it is up to the individual cantonal governments to decide what measures they want to put in place. GDK wants to improve coordination. In particular, it is planned to be able to recommend measures in the future if the situation deteriorates across Switzerland or nationwide. However, it is unlikely that these proposals will be followed everywhere. The GDK report states that cantonal differences are still “possible and likely”.

Conclusion: It cannot be said that Switzerland is already on the third summer with coronavirus with a clear concept. At best, it doesn’t matter. In the worst case, it will probably be stormy back and forth again, with threats and attempts at pressure until it is clear who is (not) interfering.

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