On the 7th of March 2021 the Swiss electorate will vote on the Popular initiative ‘Yes to a ban on full facial coverings’.
Switzerland has been debating whether to introduce a ban on full facial coverings for several years. The Federal Council and Parliament have always opposed a nationwide ban. At cantonal level, St Gallen and Ticino have introduced a ban on full facial coverings. Other cantons have decided not to do so. In several cantons, a ban on facial coverings at political demonstrations applies.
The popular initiative ‘Yes to a ban on full facial coverings’ demands that no one be able to cover up their face completely in Switzerland. This rule would apply anywhere that is publicly accessible, such as in the streets, in public offices, on public transport, at football stadiums, in restaurants, shops or in the open countryside. Exceptions will only be permitted in places of worship and at other sacred sites, for health and safety reasons, because of the weather and because of Swiss custom. There will be no additional exceptions, for example for tourists who wish to wear facial coverings.
For the Federal Council and Parliament, the initiative goes too far. They have tabled an indirect counter-proposal. This would require persons to show their faces to the police or other officials if this is necessary for identification purposes. The counter-proposal, which can only come into force if the initiative is rejected, would also introduce measures aimed at improving women’s rights.
Last modification 12.01.2021