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

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 Wednesday
Quick Covid test is now available at Zurich airport. PhotoHelena by Zurich airport

Good news on the epidemiological front

There are two pieces of uplifting news in Switzerland.

One, “the epidemiological situation is evolving favourably”, according to Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control section of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

She added that the positivity rate, hospitalisations and deaths are continuing to drop.

The second piece of good news is that health officials believe the two vaccines used in Switzerland  — Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech — are effective against  Covid mutations, including the Indian variant.

READ MORE: Covid-19 update: The stats that show Switzerland is winning the pandemic battle

Driverless car is launched

Switzerland’s first-ever remotely piloted vehicle made its debut in Fribourg. Created by SwissMoves, “a center of excellence for automated mobility,” the basic idea of ​​this project is to enhance public transport in remote areas at low cost.

There are currently 14 automated vehicles in Switzerland, but they are not fully autonomous and, for legal reasons, each must be operated by a human driver, said Roland Scherwey, the project’s manager and professor at the Fribourg University of Engineering and Architecture.

Automated vehicles could become a means of serving rural areas, with the addition of new bus routes or on-demand services and 24-hour availability. They would also help reduce the purchase of private vehicles. 

Beware of a faulty charger

The three-way “Travel Charger” USB plug-in charger, model “APD1-222” (pictured below), must not be used, as there is a risk of electric shock, according to the Federal Inspectorate of High Current Installations (ESTI).

Consumers who own this product, produced by an unknown manufacturer, are urged to stop using it immediately. They should also inform ESTI about where they purchased the device.

Faster Covid tests at Zurich airport

Time is of essence when travelling, and waiting to get the obligatory Covid test can add some time to the process.

But the new online platform allows applicants to register for a test at Terminal 2 from their home, on the road, or even in the waiting room. In front of the centre itself, the possibility of registration will be indicated by corresponding posters.

Thanks to this new process, the waiting time in front of the test centre is considerably reduced. In addition, the centre offers a new Fast Track service, eliminating any waiting time.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables victims of bad weather

The rainy month of May and low temperatures have delayed the growth of fruits and vegetables in Switzerland.

The strawberries are still green, broccoli and asparagus don’t grow, delaying the harvest by at least 21 days — provided the weather improves.

This means there may be a shortage of certain local produce in Swiss supermarkets, and imported items will be proposed instead.

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]