Swiss citizens have narrowly voted in favour of banning full-face veils. According to official results, some 51.21% of voters supported the motion.
The measure will oblige people to leave their faces uncovered in public areas, except for wearing masks as a protective measure against COVID-19.
While the vote did not specifically single out Muslim face coverings, the new ban will essentially prohibit the burqa and niqab worn by Muslim women. However, the new measure will not apply to places of worship.
With the introduction of the face covering restrictions, Switzerland has joined several other European nations that have introduced similar bans. France prohibited full-face veils in 2011. Since then, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria have imposed full or partial bans on such types of garments in public places.
Switzerland is notable for its principle of direct democracy, where citizens are allowed to vote on new laws or amend old ones. In 2009, Switzerland similarly voted against allowing the construction of minarets.
Muslims make up some 5.2% of Switzerland's population, mostly hailing from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, and Kosovo.