The importance of the Covid-19 Act for the Canton of Basel-Stadt
On 13 June 2021, there will be a vote on the Federal Act on the Statutory Principles for Federal Council Ordinances on Combating the Covid-19 Epidemic (Covid-19 Act). The Government clearly declares itself in favour of voting for this act.
The number of coronavirus patients in hospital grew quickly in spring 2020. This required a rapid response from the Federal Council which took measures to protect people from infection and the hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, as well as to support people and businesses who were suffering because of the economic consequences of the pandemic. The actions of the Federal Council were directly supported by the federal constitution. If these measures were going to be allowed to apply for longer than six months, the Federal Council and the parliament had to draw up a law. They did this with the Federal Act on the Statutory Principles for Federal Council Ordinances on Combating the Covid-19 Epidemic.
Parliament passed the Covid-19 Act in September 2020 and declared it to be urgent. It therefore came into force immediately. The law is limited in time and virtually all regulations apply until the end of 2021. Because a referendum against the act is being held, there will be a vote on it on 13 June 2021. If voters reject the act, it will cease to be in force on 25 September 2021. After this date there would no longer be any legal basis for the financial support, for example.
The Government of the Canton of Basel-Stadt supports the Covid-19 Act. Along with financial aid, the act also regulates measures such as those for guaranteeing medical care during the crisis. An example of this is the ability to obtain essential medical products such as personal protective equipment.
Like other cantons, the Canton of Basel-Stadt is dependent on the continuation of the legal basis for payment of financial aid (including extension of short-time working compensation, compensation for loss of income or hardship assistance for restaurants, hotels, etc.). Drafting new programmes and laws would take a lot of time and delay payments, because the cantonal enforcement legislation, for instance in the case of the hardship measures, is now based on the Covid-19 Act. A “no” at the ballot box would have negative consequences for affected businesses and employees. This is especially the case for Basel-Stadt, where the local hotel industry and restaurant trade depend greatly on trade fair and business tourism with foreign guests. Unlike classic holiday destinations, it isn’t possible to make up for the slump in the summer or winter holidays with Swiss guests.
The Canton of Basel-Stadt is also particularly affected by the freedom of movement of cross-border commuters. 15% of health and social care workers in the Canton of Basel-Stadt are cross-border commuters. This high proportion is only surpassed by the Canton of Ticino (17%). The health service in the Canton of Basel-Stadt is highly dependent on these workers. The Covid-19 Act is the best means of guaranteeing the freedom of movement of cross-border commuters, as well as residents who have a special relationship to the border area.