Offering scenic views of the Pennine Alps from the foot of the Matterhorn, Zermatt provides tourists with the embodiment of the ethereal beauty of Switzerland's nature. Though its official population is only 5,820, the city balloons well-above that number with tourists outnumbering locals arriving to visit one of the most sought after ski resorts in Europe. Despite offering its visitors a haven from the dystopian urbanias they hail from, even Zermatt cannot offer an escape from the restrictive coronavirus measures implemented by Swiss authorities. Case in point: Walliserkanne, a famed restaurant that established itself in Zermatt, was shuttered following after refusing to require patrons to provide proof of vaccination to be served.
Though not a part of the European Union, the Swiss Federal Council decided to require proof of vaccination via the EU vaccine passport back in September. The decree stipulated that the measure would last until at least January 24th, 2022. Unlike similar measures implemented in other nations, individuals can offer a negative test within a prescribed period of time or even proof that they have achieved natural immunity by recovering from the virus. In addition to extending a fine to any individual who failed to offer proof of vaccination or a comparable alternative, the Swiss government extended penalties to restaurants for not enforcing it. Beyond fines, the measure dictates that authorities have the right to close down any such restaurant or business found to be breaking the law.
That was the fate that befell Walliserkanne. Following gestapo-style inspection by the cantonal police of Valais in tandem with Zermatt's regional law enforcement over the weekend, it became apparent that the restaurant had disregarded the requirement to request proof of vaccination from patrons. In doing so, their conduct alleviated any fault of its customers as they technically were not in violation of the law as they were not refusing to offer their passport given that it was never asked for to begin with. However, that relief put the totality of the fault on the owners of Walliserkanne.
Initially, police had offered the owners of several warnings to adhere to the vaccine passport requirement. However, the trio of owners rejected each warning and continued to serve patrons without asking for their proof of vaccination. After it became clear that the restaurant had no intent to conform to the vaccine passport requirement, the cantonal government ordered that the restaurant would be forced to close for two weeks beginning last Friday. After the order was issued, authorities blockaded the entrance with several heavy cinder blocks in order to close the restaurant for repeated violations of the draconian measure.
To the chagrin of the police who installed the barricade, its brazen visibility only served to embolden the restaurant and its patrons. Supporters of Walliserkanne began to galvanize around the concrete wall which in many ways served as the embodiment of the authoritarian nature of the the vaccine passport requirement. The barricade soon became decorated with flowers, messages of support, and other ornamentation of solidarity with the restaurant's owners for their decision to defy the law. Organizers from Switzerland's Mass-Voll movement descended on Zermatt to join its efforts fighting the restrictive measures. As a show of appreciation for the outspoken support they received, the restaurants owners added their own touch to the barricade by using it as a makeshift bar to serve the congregation that gathered around it in protest.
The news of restaurateurs' continued defiance led to the owners being arrested on Sunday morning after police had observed them serving patrons at the makeshift bar counter. The three now face charges following the announcement of a criminal investigation being opened by the canton's public prosecutor's office.
If the scenes at Walliserkanne from this weekend show anything, it's that the one thing proof of vaccination requires do achieve is fomenting more dissent. Restaurants from Paris to San Francisco to Sydney have become destinations for dissidents to galvanize around in order to express their rejection of the requirements. Though these restrictions are made under the guise of acting in the interest of public health, anyone with even a vapid understanding of history knows that bars, pubs, restaurants, and churches have served as crucial centers for rebels organizing against tyranny. With that knowledge in hand, the real reason behind the targeting of these businesses should become a lot clearer.