ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland will not bow to foreign pressure to close ski resorts over year-end holidays as some neighbours have done, Health Minister Alain Berset said on Thursday, while warning that infection rates in the nation remained “very worrying”.
The government is due to discuss on Friday its “middle path” approach to fighting the pandemic, which has kept the country relatively open and relied on the public to comply with hygiene measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
That is showing mixed success, with rates of new infections settling in at stubbornly high levels.
Neighbours France, Italy and Germany are keeping winter sports under wraps over the holidays. Austria will let resorts reopen for Christmas while making ski holidays nearly impossible.
“Switzerland does not react to pressure from other countries,” Berset told reporters after visiting health workers in Basel, saying Bern was in constant contact with neighbours.
Still, public opinion could swing against Switzerland should people see it as profiting from others’ prudence, he said.
“There is no pressure on us, but there may be difficulty for Switzerland’s reputation if there are sudden outbreaks all over Europe and others would say it is coming from Switzerland,” he acknowledged.
“Then it does not matter if it is true or false. It is very unpleasant for us.”
Swiss health authorities have reported more than 340,000 infections and 4,747 deaths since the outbreak began.
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz, editing by Michael Shields)