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Today in Switzerland: A roundup 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 roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Signs pointing to Heidi’s village in Maienfeld. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Health situation has not worsened since the lifting of restrictions

Coronavirus-related infections have fallen to a low level in Switzerland, showing that the easing of many pandemic rules in recent weeks has not had any negative effects, according Rudolf Hauri, president of the Association of Cantonal Doctors.

However, he noted that as the virus has not disappeared altogether, local outbreaks can still happen, especially among people who have not been vaccinated.

No Covid certificate for people screened with antigen test

People who have recovered from the coronavirus (along with those who have been vaccinated)  can apply for the health pass.

However it turns out that only those been detected by a PCR test are eligible for the certificate.

The form needed to receive the pass clearly states that “If your COVID-19 infection was solely confirmed by a rapid antigen test, it is not possible to issue a COVID certificate under the EU regulations”.

This regulation affects an estimated 70,000 residents of Switzerland who tested positive using an antigen test.

READ MORE: How to get Switzerland’s Covid-19 health pass

You will have to pay to go to the emergency room for a minor case

The Council of States accepted a parliamentary initiative to bill people who seek treatment in the emergency room for non-urgent health issues a fee of 50 francs, which the patients would have to pay out of their own pockets.

MPs argued that this measure may dissuade those who are not seriously ill from going to the emergency room and overloading the system, while also taking medical staff away from patients who need urgent help.

Exemptions could apply to children and adolescents under the age of 16, patients referred to the emergency room by a doctor, and those whose treatment subsequently requires hospitalisation.

Geneva gives 326 million francs to France

The French border departments of Haute-Savoie and Ain received this money, which comes from the withholding tax levied on salaries of approximately 87,000 cross-border workers employed in the canton, for the fiscal year 2020.

This is 11 million more than France received for taxes collected in 2019.

Cross-border employees are taxed in Geneva, but a portion of the money goes back to their French communes of residence to finance infrastructure projects of regional importance, in particular those managing mobility on both sides of the border.

The same system is in place for cross-border workers from Italy and Germany.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What cross-border workers should know about taxation in Switzerland

Citizens of St. Gallen voted to keep Heidi out of their canton

The quintessential Swiss mountain girl, Heidi, was supposed to get a whole new village built for her in St. Gallen’s Flumserberg region. But the 40-million-franc project, which was supposed to bring in over 200,000 visitors to the area, was rejected by 591 out of 742 local voters.

However, the character created  by writer Johanna Spyri in 1880 still has a home in Swiss Alps. It is located in a quaint Heidi-themed village of Maienfeld, in canton Graubünden, which is visited each year by about 150,000 tourists from around 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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Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Heating with wood to become more expensive, redacted vaccine contracts, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Thursday.

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

Heating with wood is starkly more expensive

It’s not only the prices for fossil fuels, oil and gas that have risen sharply in Switzerland. Even those who rely on alternative energies such as wood as a fuel currently have to dig deeper into their wallets, SRF reported.

The pellets made from pressed sawdust are 46 percent more expensive than a year ago. “In general, we can summarise that the increase is due to higher production costs,” said Peter Lehmann, President of the “proPellets” Association. In addition to processing, wood is also more expensive.

Last year, almost 50 percent more pellet-based heating systems were built than in 2020, which has increased the demand for pellets. However, Lehmann assumes that the price will not decrease in the medium term; wood as a raw material is too much in demand in the current situation.

READ ALSO: Five of the biggest challenges facing Switzerland right now

Swiss government publishes redacted vaccine contracts

After a long period of resistance, the Swiss government disclosed the vaccine purchase contracts. Before that, however, it had redacted them out extensively, Watson reported.

The authorities have kept it a secret even the duration of secrecy, so the Swiss won’t know how long it will take until they can see the complete contracts. The lack of transparency has brought on criticism against the government.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why vaccinations are not mandatory in Switzerland

Almost 10 percent of Ukrainian refugees have found jobs in Switzerland

A total of 9.4 percent of adults possessing a special “S” permit are working, with most employed in the restaurant sector, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said.

Nearly a quarter of them (23 percent) are active in the restaurant industry. In addition, 17 percent work in the “planning, consulting, IT” sector. Agriculture and education each account for 8 percent of those with the S status.

There are currently 61 424 status S applications in Switzerland, of which 59 411 persons have been granted S status, SEM said.

READ ALSO: 200,000 in 2022: Immigration fuelling Swiss population surge

Federal Council wants to decide on sanction policy in August

Switzerland’s Federal Council wants to discuss whether or not to adopt the so-called “thematic” sanctions of the European Union, Tagesanzeiger said.

These sanctions work differently than those imposed on a specific country. Instead, they allow measures to be taken against individuals, companies and organisations from different countries that violate certain rights. They are primarily concerned about violations regarding chemical weapons, cyber and human rights.

Specifically, in March 2021, the EU decided to sanction some persons, organisations and institutions from North Korea, Libya, Eritrea, South Sudan, Russia and China for serious human rights violations.

The controversial decision could lead to Switzerland sanctioning China, with Minister of Economic Affairs Guy Parmelin against adopting the measures.

READ ALSO: Switzerland bans imports of Russian gold