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

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

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Friday
New travel app is being tested on Zurich to London flights. Photo by IATA

Survey reveals 10 best employers in Switzerland

Recruiting company Randstad has compiled the ranking of the most attractive employers in Switzerland, based on a survey which asked respondents where they would like to work.

They could choose from among 150 companies.

Job security was the most important factor in choosing an employer, followed by the working environment and pay.

These are the top 10 winners:

  1. Zurich airport
  2. Patek Philippe
  3. Lindt & Sprüngli
  4. Rolex
  5. Swiss International Airlines
  6. Swiss Federal Railways
  7. SUVA
  8. Banque Pictet & Cie
  9. Swiss Re
  10. Jet Aviation

Photo by Zurich Airport

Fribourg or Freiburg? The answer may be lost in translation

French remains the only official language in Fribourg, but there’s an ongoing debate about making the canton bilingual. This is especially relevant since the city of Fribourg is planning to merge with eight neighboring bilingual communities.

However, it seems that there is no legal basis for including German as the second official language, even though the canton’s website is in both languages..

Some suggest that in municipalities with a significant linguistic minority, both French and German should be the official languages, but it is unclear how large the linguistic minority must be in order for bilingualism to be allowed.

A committee made up of French speakers opposes what it calls “the Germanization of Fribourg”, arguing that “no canton can become bilingual with a magic wand”.

The two camps may settle for the “pragmatic bilingualism” compromise, meaning that  French would remain the only official language, but German speakers will be able to communicate with cantonal and municipal administration in their mother tongue.

New app aims to make international travel easier

On Thursday, SWISS airline started testing the application on the Zurich to London Heathrow flights.

The goal of this simple mobile application, launched by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is to “make travel as easy as possible during a pandemic”.

The app informs passengers of different measures and requirements in force in the destination country, including testing and quarantine requirements. It also shows where the nearest test locations are.

Still in the testing phase, Travel Pass is currently only available by invitation, but IATA said it would be accessible more widely in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Can people from the United States and Great Britain come to Switzerland?

French bricks in a Swiss town cause uproar among residents

Work on the Museum of Natural History is underway in La Chaux-de-Fonds, in canton Neuchâtel. The museum will house “100,000 objects, classified in the Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional importance”, according to the local news platform, Arcinfo.

However, residents in this town became outraged when they noticed trucks with French license plates on the construction site. It turns out that bricks from France are used to build the museum, angering the townspeople who believe that “local materials should be favoured, especially for a public establishment financed by taxpayers”, Arcinfo reported.

Théo Bregnard, the municipal councilor in charge of museums, said it is difficult to monitor where all the building materials come from, while others claim there are not enough quarries in Switzerland to supply enough bricks for such a large construction.

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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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.