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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
University hospitals, like the one in Geneva pictured here, played a pivotal role during the pandemic. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland’s university hospitals were lifesavers during the pandemic

At a press conference in Bern, the heads of Switzerland’s five university hospitals (in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern, and Lausanne), spoke about the pivotal part their health facilities played during the coronavirus outbreak in 2020.

Though all five had reached the limits of their resources, both human and financial, they had a central role in keeping the pandemic under control.

“Without the university hospitals and their know-how, in particular for patients requiring intensive care, the pandemic would not have been manageable”, the heads of the five hospitals said.

“Our hospitals saved lives during the crisis when there were no other options, ” noted Bertrand Levrat, director of Geneva’s university hospitals (HUG).

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Why are Switzerland’s coronavirus numbers falling so sharply?

Switzerland’s largest supermarket chains threaten to boycott Brazilian products

A soon-to-be adapted Brazilian law will endanger the rainforest, prompting 40 European companies, including Migros and Coop, to sign a protest letter against the legislation.

Both retailers said they would boycott products from Brazil if the law is enacted.

“Last year we saw a series of circumstances that led to an extremely high number of forest fires and deforestation in Brazil,” said the letter addressed to the national congress.

“We consider the Amazon to be a central part of the global ecosystem that is essential for the security of our planet, as well as a critical part of a prosperous future for Brazilians and society as a whole”

Also at Coop: Coca-Cola from Poland

Starting today, Coke Zero imported from Poland will be available at Coop.

The supermarket chain decided to switch from the traditional US supplier which inflated its prices, according to the retailer. The US supplier “annoyed Swiss consumers” by decreasing the volume of its bottles from half litres to 0.45 litres, while charging the same price of 1.35 francs per bottle.  

“This new import is a temporary measure with which Coop is committed to offer better prices for its customers”, said company spokesperson Rebecca Veiga.

To launch the new product, Coop is offering a promotional deal today and tomorrow: a 24-pack of 330 ml at 40 cents per can, instead of the usual 80 cents.

French MP calls for easing of entry restrictions for residents of Switzerland 

Annie Genevard, a deputy from Doubs, a French department that borders Swiss cantons of Jura and Neuchâtel, is asking her colleagues to lift the Covid testing requirements for travellers from Switzerland. 

While people living up to 30 km from the border can make quick trips into France, those who live farther or want to stay in the country longer, must have a negative test to be allowed entry. 

Genevard argues that the inconvenience and the cost of getting tested may stop some people from crossing the border. In her department, “commerce suffers terribly from the absence of Swiss customers,” she said. 

She would like this restriction to be lifted at least in all the border departments.

The Local will publish an article today about which countries are open to Swiss travellers, and under what conditions.

READ MORE: How will the EU’s ‘Covid passport’ system work for tourists in Europe?

Massive layoffs at SWISS airline

In what it calls a “restructuring plan”, the national flagship carrier is eliminating 1,700 full-time positions ‑ amounting to 20 percent of its entire workforce.

“The impact of COVID-19 on aviation has been far more substantial than was the case with previous exogenous shocks, and has shaken the industry to an unprecedented extent”, SWISS said in a press release.

It added that despite the “forced dismissals that will affect both ground and flying personnel”,  the airline will “maintain its operations from both Zurich and Geneva and ensure that Switzerland remains connected with the world”.

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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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]