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

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

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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