The cantonal parliament of St Gallen on Monday voted to adopt a bill that would ban people from covering their face in public, including women wearing the burqa.

The bill was developed by a commission from a motion proposed by the Swiss People's Party (SVP) and backed by 59 to 54 votes, news agency ATS reported.

The proposal bans anyone from covering their face in public if they threaten public security or religious and social peace.

That could include women wearing the burqa and people covering their faces during demonstrations or protests or for criminal intent.

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