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NEWS ROUNDUP

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Friday

Find out what's going on in Switzerland today with The Local's short round-up of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Friday
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Infections rising again in French-speaking Switzerland due to coronavirus mutation

After weeks of declining numbers, coronavirus infections are on the rise again in Romandie. 

Infection numbers are increasing in Valais, Jura, Vaud and Freiburg. The reproduction rate is above 1 in each canton. 

Blaise Genton, chief physician for general medicine at the University of Lausanne, said “we assume that the increase in infections is due to the British virus variant”, referring to the mutation of the coronavirus which was first detected in the United Kingdom. 

Mutations have been found in 30 to 40 percent of the samples taking, up from 15 to 20 percent of the samples from last week. 

Refugee arrivals fall dramatically due to coronavirus pandemic 

The number of asylum applications in Switzerland has fallen dramatically as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

2020 saw the fewest number of applications for 13 years, with 11,041 applications being 22.6 percent lower than the results of the previous year. 

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said the major reasons for the declining numbers are the pandemic and the associated border closings. 

Switzerland spends four million francs per year keeping wolves at bay

The Swiss government spends around CHF4 million per year keeping livestock safe from wolves and lynx. 

This includes money set aside for breeding and training herd protection dogs, the installation of fences and money used to compensate farmers for lost livestock.

The existence of wolves is a controversial topic in Switzerland. After being made extinct over 100 years ago, they are gradually returning from the French and Italian alps. 

There is now an expected 80 wolves in Switzerland in around nine packs. 

In 2020, Switzerland held a referendum on a revision of Switzerland's hunting law to make it easier to address country's rapidly growing wolf population, was meanwhile rejected by 51.9 percent of voters.

EXPLAINED: How Switzerland voted in Sunday's referendums 

Swiss coronavirus skeptics refuse to pay for TV licence due to pandemic coverage

A group of coronavirus skeptics in Switzerland are refusing to pay their mandatory TV licence fees due to the media’s coverage of the pandemic. 

Many of the skeptics have taken to social media to voice their opinions and have shown images and videos of them burning their TV licence bills. 

Under Swiss law, everyone has to pay radio and television fees separate to their taxes. 

The skeptics say their refusal is based on objections to the state broadcaster’s coverage of the pandemic. 

Changes to the Swiss TV licence fee: what you need to know 

According to Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes, the objections have been made clear on social media, including in a group called “Corona Rebels Switzerland” on messaging app Telegram. 

One wrote “I will no longer co-finance this horror propaganda” while another wrote “What they have been doing for a year is criminal”. 

Switzerland celebrates 50 years of women's suffrage 

Switzerland will mark 50 years since women won the vote on Sunday — dismally late for a country that prides itself on having one of the oldest democracies in the world.

The move came in 1971, more than a century after the first demands for universal suffrage in the country.

Swiss politicians including Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter hailed the progress made since then. “February 7, 1971 marked the decisive step towards gender equality,” she said in a tweet.

READ MORE: Switzerland to mark 50 years of women voting 

“It was also the birth of the democracy we are so rightly proud of today: a complete democracy.”

 

Review our round up!

On February 1st, The Local Switzerland started out a daily round-up of the day's news. 

We've tried to keep it broad and cover a range of diverse topics relevant to our members and readers, but as it's a new feature, we're open to ideas. 

What do you think we should cover? What do we cover too much? Please let us know at [email protected]!

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COVID-19

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?

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