Police dispersed protesters in Altdorf, Uri canton. Lonza will create 1,200 jobs in Visp. Roche has run out of self-tests since Friday afternoon. Several cities around the world are reconfiguring themselves in the face of the surge in cases. In St. Gallen, the night was relatively calm, despite calls for violence.
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■ Police dispersed protesters in Altdorf
Police dispersed an unauthorized gathering of opponents of anti-Covid measures on Saturday afternoon in Altdorf. The situation became somewhat tense with a group of bell ringers near the William Tell monument. The demonstrators met shortly before noon in the cantonal capital. Some carried small signs, most of them standing around the monument. The police forces, coming from several cantons and prepared for an intervention, repeatedly asked them to leave the scene and announced identity checks.
The protesters left the square after a few boos and then returned shortly after. At around 2:00 p.m., a column of masked and black-dressed demonstrators appeared. “We cry for freedom,” read a sign. A loudspeaker played Mozart’s Requiem. The police then issued an ultimatum, demanding that the rally be dispersed within two minutes. Most complied, but a small group stayed behind and were stopped by the police.
However, the demonstration was not over: a group of bell ringers gathered around the Tell Monument to the applause of the crowd. The police then used tear gas. Opponents of the anti-Covid measures had called for a large demonstration on Saturday in Altdorf. But the Ugandan authorities did not authorize the gathering, because the obligation to wear the mask is difficult to enforce in this kind of occasion. The canton of Uri is currently experiencing a very high Covid-19 infection rate. The cantonal government described the epidemiological situation as “worrying” on Friday.
■ Better dialogue with young people
The cantons must resume dialogue with young people, believes the president of the Conference of Directors of Cantonal Justice and Police Departments (CCDJP). They have a say in the Covid crisis. “We have not spoken with young people so far,” admitted Fredy Fässler, St. Welsh State Councilor (PS) in charge of the police, in an interview with the radio program “Samstagrundschau”. SRF. He believes that they should be more involved in the search for solutions in the future.
As to how, the question is open. It does not exclude special rules for young people in compliance with the regulations in force. “Young people have different desires from 50-year-olds, they want to meet and have fun,” notes Fredy Fässler. Federal Councilor Karin Keller-Sutter said on Saturday on the airwaves of the SRF that the government was seeking dialogue with everyone, including young people.
Fredy Fässler underlined the importance of consulting the cantons, as the law on epidemics provides for in particular situations. Their opinion has not always been listened to, he believes.
■ Roche has run out of self-tests since Friday afternoon
Roche has not been able to provide self-tests to pharmacies since Friday afternoon. The high demand for testing for the coronavirus has created a transient shortage. Deliveries can resume early next week.
Pharma will then be able to provide several hundred thousand do-it-yourself tests per day, she told Keystone-ATS on Saturday. The demand of the population can be fully covered during the week, she said.
Roche has delivered around nine million self-tests to pharmacies since its product was approved by Swissmedic in early March. As of Friday, more than half a million preparations were distributed to customers in Switzerland. Demand has therefore been “largely” satisfied.
According to media and testimonies collected on Saturday, some pharmacies are already facing a shortage. In some cases, the customer only received one or two self-tests instead of the five promised. The umbrella company Pharmasuisse had indicated on Wednesday, the first day of the launch of the tests to be done at home, that Roche had guaranteed to be able to meet the demand with a production of one million tests per day.
■ In Paris, more than 110 people fined in an underground restaurant
More than 110 people gathered in an underground restaurant were fined in the nineteenth arrondissement of Paris overnight from Friday to Saturday and two people were taken into custody, the police headquarters and the prosecution said on Saturday. Two people were taken into police custody “on the counts of endangering the lives of others and concealed work”, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.
These two people are presented by the police headquarters as the organizer and manager of the restaurant. The guests were “fined for non-compliance with sanitary measures,” she adds. According to BMFTV, 62 people were fined Friday noon in an illegal restaurant in Saint-Ouen. The manager of the establishment was arrested, the police headquarters said in a tweet. These cases occur after the heated controversy triggered by the broadcast last week of a report by M6 on luxurious clandestine dinners. Nearly 1,000 customers of illegally opening restaurants have been fined in Paris since October 30, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.
■ Lonza will create 1,200 jobs in Visp
Lonza will hire 1,200 people in Visp, in the Upper Valais; 650 have already been recruited, said the director of the Valais site Renzo Cicillini in an interview with Valais messenger published on Saturday. The company active in chemicals and pharma finds its staff in the Swiss labor market, but also prospecting abroad.
Lonza Visp started production of an active ingredient for the anti-Covid Moderna vaccine last November. Since then, three production lines have been put into operation. There remains the question of a possible production line for the vaccine in Visp supported by the Confederation.
In January, Lonza planned to produce up to 300 million doses of the vaccine per year at its plant in Visp. The company said it wanted to start production in Valais, “on a small scale for now”, then wishing to hire 200 employees to manufacture this new vaccine. Lonza produces the active ingredient in Valais on behalf of Moderna for all markets except the United States. The Americans’ strategic partner in Europe is Rovi in Spain.
■ Quiet night in St. Gallen
Despite calls for violence, there were no further riots or even material damage in St. Gallen on Friday evening. The police, however, expelled 90 people from the city, some of whom came from Bern or Lucerne to attend or take part in possible disturbances. About a third of those expelled are minors, cantonal police said in a statement. According to the police, 40 people were taken away to investigate possible criminal offenses.
For the fourth time in two weeks, calls for violence had been posted on social networks. During the Easter weekend as well as a week before, riots had already pitted young people against the police. Good Friday, officers had to use rubber bullets against demonstrators.
These riots follow those at the end of March, when 200 young people participated in an illegal party before the intervention of the police, who had dispersed them. Clashes followed, as well as extensive material damage in the city center. A policeman was slightly injured.
■ Bombay and Bogota reconfine themselves, curfew in Argentina
While the number of new contaminations is soaring in India (+132,000 in 24 hours), the state of Maharashtra, the most affected by the second wave of coronavirus, is confined on Saturday for the whole weekend, a measure that affects 125 million people and will be repeated every weekend throughout the month of April.
The eight million inhabitants of Bogota, Colombia, will also have to confine themselves this weekend, announced the mayor of the capital Claudia Lopez. Colombia is the second country most affected by the epidemic in Latin America behind Brazil, with nearly 2.5 million cases.
Argentina, also suffering from an exponential increase in contamination, has been under curfew for three weeks since Friday.
■ An invoice of 160 million more for EMS
EMS had to pay around 160 million francs in additional costs to cope with the first wave of coronavirus, according to their umbrella organization Curaviva Suisse. This expects the cantons to assume their funding responsibilities. The amount also includes the shortfall, specifies Daniel Höchli, director of Curaviva, in an interview with the Daily indicator published Saturday. “And for the second wave, we are doing the accounts,” he adds.
Curaviva Switzerland expects the cantons to assume their responsibilities by providing financial support. In some of them, the ground is being prepared, while in others “there is not much political will to help”, according to Daniel Höchli. According to him, continuing to fight the pandemic requires an in-depth debate on what people in nursing homes really want.
■ Trudeau calls for tightening measures in Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Friday for the tightening of health measures in place in Canada at a time when the acceleration of the vaccination campaign fails to curb the third wave of Covid-19.
“In several places in the country, stricter measures are needed to curb the spread of the virus,” he said, while the most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have just tightened their restrictions already in place. . But some, like Alberta (west), which has the highest number of new cases of Covid-19 in Canada per million inhabitants for a week, have just closed bars and dining rooms. Ontario reconfigured itself Thursday by shutting down non-essential businesses for a month.