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

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 Thursday
Traffic, like here, in Zurich, generates toxic noise. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Seven regions of neighbouring countries no longer on quarantine list

Switzerland has removed some areas off its “high-risk” list, meaning that effective immediately travelers from these regions must no longer quarantine upon arrival.

These regions are: Austria — Land Burgenland, Land Kärnten, Land Niederösterreich and Land Wien. Italy —Regione Emilia Romagna, Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia and Regione Toscana.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Jordan, San Marino, and Ukraine have also been removed from the list.

The Local will publish an article today about when tourism to Switzerland is expected to open up again.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Which countries are currently on Switzerland’s quarantine list?

‘Cautious optimism’ on the epidemiological front

Despite the presence of the “aggressive” British coronavirus mutation, the prevalent variant in Switzerland, the country has “good reasons to be cautiously optimistic”, according to Patrick Mathys, head of the crisis unit at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

The number of daily infections is stable, and the R-rate has dropped below 1, which means that virus transmission has slowed down and the pandemic is currently under control, Mathys said.

Portuguese and Spanish nationals shun Geneva’s elections

Although foreigners living in Geneva for at least eight years have the right to vote at a municipal level, not all of them participate in this democratic process.

A study carried out by Geneva’s Office for the Integration of Foreigners shows that very few Portuguese and Spanish residents voted in the municipal elections on March 15th — only 13 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

However, the turnout was much higher among Belgian nationals (41 percent), Germans (39 percent) and French (31).

Of other nationalities — the UK, Italy, Turkey, USA, Morocco and Brazil — between one-third and one-fifth of residents cast their votes.

Don’t throw away your disposable masks — yet

Although we have been told that surgical masks should be tossed away each day, now a new Swiss study shows this  guideline is not necessarily true.

Instead, after being worn, a surgical mask should be kept for seven days and then reused.

With this so-called “weekly” strategy, the same person could use their mask up to 10 times, a study by Unisanté — University Center for General Medicine and Public Health in Lausanne revealed.

That’s because the viability of the virus deposited on a surface decreases “considerably” after a few hours. After being used, a surgical mask can be kept for seven days and then reused. This solution would allow the carbon footprint of surgical masks to be diminished ten-fold, researchers said.

Environmental noise can be hazardous to health, Swiss researchers found

Around 450 premature deaths and 2,500 new cases of diabetes occur each year in Switzerland in connection with too much exposure to traffic noise, the Federal Office for the Environment found.

“Exposure to noise has an impact on the cardiovascular system, with a stiffening of the arteries which can lead to heart attack. We have also noticed that someone who has spent a night in a noisy environment will tend to metabolise their sugar less well, which can lead to diabetes”, one of the researchers said.

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]

Member comments

  1. Is there any rationale for denying entry from the USA, if one has been vaccinated? Does anyone look at evidence before making decisions?

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For members


Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

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

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
MPs debate tax breaks for childcare services. Photo by Rashid Sadykov on Unsplash

Geneva vaccination centres will remain open despite USA-Russia summit

Although certain parts of the city will be shut on Wednesday due to the meeting this week between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, health authorities have said that Geneva’s vaccination facilities will continue to operate.

Even if some modifications will have to be made, “their impact will be minimal”, according to the cantonal pharmacist Nathalie Vernaz-Hegi.

READ MORE: Historic Swiss lakeside villa spruced up for Biden-Putin talks

Night trains and buses will resume their activity in July

Suspended since November, following the Federal Council’s decision to close restaurants at 11 pm, public transportation has not, or rarely, operated during the night since that time.
This is set to change in July, especially as there are now enough train drivers, particularly in the German-speaking Switzerland.
Shortages still remain in the French-speaking areas, as well as Ticino, but they should be resolved by fall.

Parents might be able to deduct more taxes for daycare costs

The parliament is debating about increasing the deduction for childcare costs, from 6,500 to 10,000 francs.

MP Christa Markwalder proposed this motion, arguing that it would allow a better reconciliation of professional and family life, as well as better integration of women into the labour market.

Opponents, however, claim  that such a deduction would lead to considerable tax losses, without having any positive effect on equality between men and women.

However, the proposal has every chance of succeeding, supporters say.

READ MORE: How to decide where to live in Switzerland based on affordability

Deportations of foreign criminals should be improved for minor cases, MPs say

The National Council has widely adopted a motion proposing several changes to criminal law relating to the expulsion of foreigners who commit crimes in Switzerland,

The motion proposes three options.

Firstly, the Public Prosecutor’s Office should be empowered to order expulsion in minor cases. Today, only a court can make this decision.

Secondly, foreign defendants without a residence permit or who entered Switzerland solely with the intention of committing a crime, should no longer be entitled to a defense.

Finally, the list of offenses must be re-examined to exclude minor ones; this includes contraventions leading to compulsory expulsion, in particular when they were committed by young foreigners who grew up in Switzerland.

Swiss residents opt to invest their money in pension funds

People in Switzerland have a marked preference for placing their money in pension funds and life insurance over other investment options, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group.

The study showed that the two investment vehicles accounted for 41 percent of the estimated $3.3 trillion of financial wealth in 2020.

Next — 32 percent — are deposits in foreign currencies, followed by equities and investment funds (23 percent).

At the end of 2020, the share of Swiss financial assets was more than 6 percent of  Western Europe’s.

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]