A special Covid-19 certificate in Switzerland will let only people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative attend public events and gatherings.

Police increased security around several politicians in anticipation of protests after the results.
Police increased security around several politicians in anticipation of protests after the results. (Reuters)

Swiss voters firmly have backed the law behind the country's Covid pass in a referendum, following a tense campaign that saw unprecedented levels of hostility.

Early results on Sunday showed around two-thirds of voters supported the law, with market researchers GFS Bern projecting 63 percent backing across the wealthy Alpine nation.

The police fenced off the seat of government and parliament in Bern in anticipation of protests.

Results from 16 of Switzerland's 26 cantons showed 61.9 percent had voted in favour of the law, on a 64 percent turnout.

The law provides the legal basis for the so-called Covid certificate, indicating that a person has been vaccinated or has recovered from the disease.

READ MORE: Nations close borders to prevent Omicron from spreading

'Apartheid' system

Opponents have said the certificate, which has been required since September for access to restaurants and other indoor spaces and activities, is creating an "apartheid" system.

As in much of Europe, Switzerland has seen growing anger over restrictions aimed at reining in the pandemic, and pressure to get vaccinated.

The campaign saw repeated protests, often led by the so-called "Freiheitstrychler", or "Freedom ringers" - men dressed in white shirts embroidered with edelweiss flowers and with two large cowbells suspended from a yoke resting on their shoulders.

Some of the demonstrations led to violent clashes with police, who used rubber bullets and tear gas to rein in the crowds. 

'Extremely shocking'

Michelle Cailler, a spokesperson for the Friends of the Constitution group which opposed the law, said that granting such powers to the government was "extremely dangerous for democracy".

"What is very embarrassing is that this law violates a number of constitutional rights, and in particular Article 10 on personal freedom with this Covid certificate, which establishes a disguised mandatory vaccination," she added.

"So it's extremely shocking for a country like Switzerland."

The referendum came as the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, classified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization, shook countries and markets around the world.

The vote also came at a time when the numbers of new Covid-19 cases in Switzerland were more than seven times higher than they were in mid-October.

READ MORE: Swiss hotels, restaurants risk 'bankruptcy' as third wave of layoffs loom

Source: TRTWorld and agencies