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
Police patrolling ski resorts say there are few rule violations. Photo by AFP

Young people are more prone to aggressive behaviour

Cantonal Police are reporting an increase in the number of brawls and other aggressive acts among young people in Switzerland. 

Several cantonal police forces have had to intervene more frequently than usual in dispersing unruly rallies and putting an end to fights.

They are attributing this phenomenon to the growing frustration over restrictions currently in place in Switzerland, including the closure of entertainment venues and other non-essential businesses. 

“Everything is closed, that's why the situation is getting so bad,” one participant in a brawl said on social media. “There is nothing we can do anymore, and for us, it is brutal. We feel locked up”. 

Checks in ski resorts don’t find many rule breakers

Since mid-December, around 500 checks have been carried out in ski resorts in Vaud, Valais, Fribourg, Neuchâtel, Bern, Grisons, Schwyz, Obwalden, Uri, Glarus, and the two Appenzells.

Only few and minor violations of the restrictions in place have been found, cantonal authorities report. 

Interventions included the closing of a ski lift because the operator didn’t have the permit, and dispersing a large queue that had formed at the detriment of distance rules.

The vast majority of skiers were found to respect protective measures, which include masks not only in closed spaces such as mountain trains and cable cars, but also on open-air chair lifts and T-bars, as well as in queues.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are the rules for February holidays in Switzerland?

A German mountain is used to sell Swiss broth

Swiss condiment manufacturer, Knorr, is advertising one of its broths — which is made from “95% Swiss ingredients” —against the backdrop of Alpine scenery. But the mountain depicted in the picture is in Germany, not Switzerland.

Though Switzerland has many stunning mountains, the one Knorr chose as a background to its broth is Bavaria’s Watzmann, the third highest peak in Germany.

When Blick newspaper spotted the error, the company removed the advertisement featuring the ‘wrong’ mountain from its website. 

The German mountain in the Knorr ad. Photo by Berchtesgadener Landtourismus

Fake Covid tests are used to enter Switzerland

False documents have been intercepted in recent days at the border, at airports, and on international trains and bus lines, according to Federal Office of Police (Fedpol).

A negative coronavirus test result is now required for entry to Switzerland, spurring the production of forged documents.

Christian Bock, director of the Federal Customs Administration, said these fake certificates sell on social media for up to several hundred francs. Such forgery, however, is a criminal offence, with both manufacturers and users of these documents liable to prosecution,



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Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence

Swiss government has devised three contingency plans that could be implemented to fight a new outbreak. What are they?

Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence
Authorities want to prevent overcrowded hospitals if new wave comes. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Although Switzerland relaxed a number of coronavirus rules from June 26th and 28th, “the pandemic is not over”, as Health Minister Alain Berset said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Berset said Switzerland should not become complacent, with last summer a warning against feeling that the battle is won. 

He added, however, that the new wave is unlikely to be as large as the previous ones due to the country’s vaccination campaign.

This situation leaves a degree of uncertainty for which the government wants to be prepared as well as possible, Berset noted.

The Federal Council established a “just-in-case” procedure on Wednesday for three possible scenarios that could take place in the autumn and winter. 

These plans focus mainly on the rapid detection of variants and the continuation of vaccination, testing, and tracing.

The best-case scenario: status quo

In this scenario, the number of cases remains at a low level, though small outbreaks are still possible.

The number of infections may increase slightly due to seasonal factors — the virus is known to spread slower in summer and faster in autumn and winter—  but does not place a significant burden on the health system.

If this happens, no measures beyond those already in place would be necessary.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is Switzerland lifting its Covid-19 restrictions too quickly?

Not so good: more contaminations

In this second scenario, there is an increase in the number of cases in autumn or winter.

There may be several reasons for this, for example the large proportion of unvaccinated people, seasonal effects — people tend to stay indoors together in cold weather, and contaminations are easier — or the appearance of new, more infectious variants.

This situation could overburden the health system and require the reintroduction of certain measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask outdoors.

Booster vaccinations may also be necessary.

The worst: new virus mutations

In scenario three, one or more new variants appear, against which the vaccine or the post-recovery immunity are less effective or no longer effective.

A new wave of pandemic emerges, requiring strong intervention by the public authorities and a new vaccination.

Which of the three scenarios is most likely to happen?

The government hasn’t said, but judging by the comments of health officials, the latter two are the strongest contenders.

Firstly, because the highly contagious Delta mutation, which is spreading quickly through many countries, is expected to be dominant in Switzerland within a few weeks.

It is expected that the virus will spread mostly to those who are not vaccinated and, to a lesser degree, to people who have only had one shot of the vaccine, according to Andreas Cerny, epidemiologist at the University of Bern

READ MORE: How Switzerland plans to contain the Delta variant

Another concern is related to the appearance of the new variants which could be as or possibly even more contagious than Delta and not as responsive to the current vaccines.

The government said the best chance of avoiding the second or third scenarios is to ensure people are vaccinated. 

“Widespread vaccination of the population is crucial to relieve the burden on the healthcare system and to manage the epidemic. A possible increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the autumn will largely depend on the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated,” the government wrote in a press statement.

The government has also indicating it is preparing for booster vaccinations to take place in 2022 and are encouraging cantons to keep their vaccine infrastructures in place.