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

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Air pollution in Zurich decreased during the confinement. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Repercussions of abandoned talks with the EU could be significant

The government’s decision on Wednesday to abandon its longstanding negotiations with the European Union could have far-reaching consequences on various sectors of the country’s economy, labour market,  as well as continued cooperation in the areas of trade, education and research.

“A long-term and stable relationship with the European Union remains of utmost importance for the Swiss economy”, said Economiesuisse, an association representing Switzerland’s business interests.

It added that “it is now necessary to stabilise the existing agreements and minimise the damage”.

READ MORE: ‘Significant differences’: Switzerland cuts talks with EU over cooperation agreement

“Vaccines work”: Drop in the number of Covid cases

For the first time since October 2020, Switzerland announced less than 1,000 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday — 966, according to the Federal Office of Public Health.

“We are not yet at the end of the road, but the outlook is positive,” said Health Minister Alain Berset.

He attributed the improvement in the epidemiological situation to the vaccines.

“We have had a decline in infections for several weeks. The vaccination campaign is working, the vaccines are effective”, he said.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid measures will Switzerland relax from Monday?

Switzerland denies involvement in Belarus’ interception of airliner

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko said he ordered the rerouting of the Lithuania-bound Ryanair plane to Minsk on Sunday because Switzerland alerted him about a bomb threat.

The real reason for the action was to arrest a dissident present on board.

However, Switzerland’s foreign ministry swiftly refuted Lukashenko’s claim, saying  it had no knowledge of a bomb threat on the Ryanair flight and had not been in contact with Belarusian authorities on this matter.

Air quality in Zurich improved during the pandemic

The six-week-long confinement in the spring of 2020 had a positive effect on air quality in Zurich, according to the canton’s building department.

For instance, on the busy Rosengartenstrasse, nitrogen dioxide pollution fell in parallel with the reduced volume of traffic. And when measurements were taken in Kloten near the airport, the proportion of the smallest fine dust particles was lower than usual.

This shows how automobiles are a major contributor to air pollution.

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