Fire forces evacuation at futuristic Neuchâtel hotel

Guests and staff were evacuated from an unusual luxury waterfront hotel and restaurant in Neuchâtel after a fire broke out on Monday.

Fire forces evacuation at futuristic Neuchâtel hotel
Aerial view of the Palafitte hotel. Photo: Hôtel Palafitte

The blaze started in an electrical room at the five-star Palafitte hotel, 2 Route des Gouttes d’Or, around noon, Neuchâtel cantonal police said.

Eight fire fighters attended and rapidly doused the flames, police said.

No one was injured in the fire.

People were evacuated from the hotel’s restaurant and rooms because of smoke, police said.

The canton’s chief prosecutor launched an investigation into the cause of the fire.

With rooms costing up to 1,040 francs a night, the “designer” Palafitte hotel consists of rooms in futuristic modules.

Twenty four of the 40 rooms are built on stilts over the lake, offering unobscured water and mountain views from balconies.

Elsewhere, another fire early Tuesday in the village of Attalens in the canton Fribourg caused significant damage to a 13-unit apartment building.

Emergency officials were alerted around 3.45am after the building’s roof caught fire, Fribourg newspaper La Liberté reported online.

Three residents suffered from smoke inhalation while a fourth experienced a “malaise,” La Liberté said.

Residents were evacuated but 16 tenants have had to be re-lodged, police said.

The roof of the building was being renovated.

An investigation is under way into the cause of the fire.


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Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th

Nearly four weeks after closing down, bars and restaurants in five of Switzerland’s six French-speaking regions will be back in business as of December 10th.

Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th
A waiter wearing a protective face mask poses in the nearly empty restaurant "Le Lyrique cafe brasserie" in Geneva. AFP

In a joint press release, Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, and Jura announced on Wednesday that the decision to re-open restaurants and cafés “was made in a concerted manner and with a desire for harmonisation and clarity” among the neighbouring regions.

Of the French-speaking cantons, only Valais restaurants will remain shut, as the canton had extended its closures until December 13th.

Authorities noted that the decision to re-open was driven by the steadily declining coronavirus infection rates in the regions, which until the first week of November had been among the most impacted in Switzerland.

Cantonal officials said that the re-opening “will take place in a strict health framework. It will be mandatory to consume seated and provide contact details for tracing. There can only up to four people per table.”

Tables must be at least 1.5 metres apart and masks must be worn if customers are not seated.

Additionally, establishments must remain closed between 11 pm. and 6 am, in accordance with federal rules.

Authorities said they would monitor “for the possible effects of the re-opening on the pandemic. This means the decision can be revoked if the health situation requires it”.

In Vaud, electric heaters will be allowed outside the restaurants to encourage customers to eat outdoors.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: Reasons to be optimistic about the coronavirus situation in Switzerland 

Other measures will also be lifted

For instance, in Vaud museums will re-open on December 1st, and religious services will resume with a maximum of 30 people. They will have to wear masks and keep the 1.5-metre distance.

Also in Vaud, more relaxed measures will be put in place for the holidays: from December 18th to January 3rd, the limit for gatherings will be raised from five to 10 people.

However, participation in other public or private events will remain limited to five people.

In Geneva, the Council of State announced on Wednesday that museums, exhibition halls and libraries will be open from November 28th.

This new relaxation comes after hairdressers, beauticians and other wellness services resumed their activities on Saturday.

Until then, all non-essential businesses in Geneva had been shut down since the beginning of November to curb the canton’s alarmingly high contamination rate. 

You can see the situation in other Swiss cantons here.