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

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 30 Apr, 2021 Updated Fri 30 Apr 2021 07:45 CEST
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A picture taken on early April 8, 2021 shows fruit trees in blossom wrapped with ice, part of the fight against frost, in the Swiss Alps mountains in Saillon near Martigny. - When the temperature drops below zero on freezing spring nights, fruit trees are sprayed with water to protect them from the cold. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)

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

Two cantons to start vaccinating ages 16 and up

Jura and Valais announced they would open their vaccination programme to everyone from the age of 16, starting on May 6th and mid-May, respectively.

They are the first Swiss cantons to do so.

People in this age group will receive the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine, the only one approved for use in this age category.

In case of Valais, people aged 50 and over will still be prioritised over younger groups, officials said.

The two regions follow the lead of another French-speaking canton, Vaud, which last week became the first to open up its inoculation programme to everyone over 18, regardless of their health status. 

READ MORE: Vaud first Swiss canton to start vaccinating all members of public

Federal Council calmly protests Joe Biden’s remark calling Switzerland a ‘tax haven’

In his “State of the Union” speech this week, the US president criticised big corporations for engaging in “tax evasion through tax havens - from Switzerland to Bermuda to the Cayman Islands”.

“Our country fully respects all its international obligations and is very transparent”, noted Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer, who said he will raise this issue when he meets with his US counterpart, Janet Yellen, in a few weeks. 

"I don’t think that this is the position of the American government, but [Biden’s] speechwriters don’t know the real facts," he added.

While for a long time Switzerland had indeed been considered as a prime destination for ‘fiscal tourism’, in 2019 the country was removed from the EU list of tax havens.

This happened after Swiss voters accepted a legislation which introduced major changes in the Swiss tax system by ending some preferential tax schemes and replacing them with new regulations which are in line with international standards.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland is no longer the tax haven it used to be

SWISS airlines to no longer fly to holiday destinations?

After the loss of tens of millions of francs during the pandemic, SWISS is reportedly considering  the downsizing of its fleet, according to media reports.

Would this mean the airline will no longer fly to certain holiday destinations?

"In the short term, there is no risk that SWISS will have too few aircraft for the summer flight schedule”, said Thorsten Merkle, tourism and service innovation expert at the University of Applied Sciences in Graubünden: “It doesn't happen overnight”.

A bigger obstacle are travel restrictions in place in various countries, Merkle said.

“The quarantine requirement is a deal breaker in most cases", he added.

April was the coldest month in two decades

With the exception of several sunny and warm days, April 2021 was the coldest month in 20 years, according to Switzerland’s official weather service, MeteoSuisse.

Influx of polar air caused many days of frost on both sides of the Swiss Alps, along with unseasonally cold temperatures.

Cool weather is predicted in most of Switzerland this weekend, but warmer and sunnier days are expected from the beginning of May.


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]




Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2021/04/30 07:45

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