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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Everything that changes in Switzerland in August 2021

From Covid to schools - and of course Swiss National Day - August 2021 has some changes in store in Switzerland.

Everything that changes in Switzerland in August 2021
A clock. Photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash

August 1st: Swiss National Day

This day marks what is nowadays viewed as the beginning of the Swiss confederation way back in 1291.

Fireworks displays are usually held across Switzerland, but these have been banned in several places.

In the capital of Bern, for instance, the fireworks display in the old town has been banned due to the pandemic, while the official celebration has also been cancelled

In Zug, an official party will be held but only for those who have a valid Covid certificate

READ MORE: What will Switzerland’s Covid-19 pass allow you to do?

The Federal Customs Administration (FCA) is warning the population against the importation of unauthorised fireworks.

“Anyone wishing to import fireworks must in principle obtain an import authorisation from the Federal Office of Police,”, FCA says in a press release.
 
Import of pyrotechnic devices of up to 2.5 kilograms per person is allowed without authorisation, as long as they are not prohibited in Switzerland.
 
However, the importation of fireworks exploding on the ground is not allowed. The importation of “Lady-Crackers” over 22 millimetres in length or over 3 millimetres in diameter is also prohibited.

Banned fireworks “will be sequestered on importation or if an import authorisation is lacking. Any infringement of the law will denounced to the public prosecutor”, FCA said.

Students head back to school

School start dates vary from canton to canton, but it is around the third week of August.

Health experts warn that this year the rate of infections will increase among the 12 to 15-year-olds after summer vacations.

“When you start school again, the risk of being infected is probably going to be very high”, according to Pierre-Alex Crisinel, doctor in the paediatric and vaccinology unit of the Vaud Cantonal Hospital (CHUV).

He attributed this spike to the Delta variant, which is highly contagious not only for adults but for adolescents as well.

What this means is that “the probability of escaping the infection when returning to school is declining”.

“This should be an incentive to get vaccinated this summer”, he added.

Switzerland started vaccinating this age group in June.

Third phase of ending Covid restrictions

The end of the final phase of the government’s strategy to lift the remaining coronavirus measures is scheduled for August.

This phase will begin when all those who want to get vaccinated are fully immunised.

At this time, “social and economic restrictions will no longer be justified. The remaining measures will be gradually lifted”, including the mask requirement.

The Federal Council emphasised, however, that this phase-out can be implemented only if the epidemiological situation allows it. In order for that to happen, “it is essential that as many people as possible get vaccinated”.

“If, despite everything, the pandemic were to strengthen and threaten to overload the health system, the Federal Council reserves the right to maintain or reintroduce certain measures for a certain time, such as the obligation to wear a mask, the respect of distances and the limitation of capacities”, the government added.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Switzerland’s three-phase plan for ending Covid-19 restrictions?

Covid certificate

Unlike most of Switzerland’s neighbours, the Swiss Covid certificate is not required in many places. 

Switzerland’s Covid certificate proves vaccination, recovery from the virus or a negative test. 

While in Austria, France and some parts of Italy and Germany a Covid certificate is needed to visit a restaurant or a bar, in Switzerland this is only needed in order to access large events or fun disco parties (over 1,000 people). 

EXPLAINED: How do tourists get Switzerland’s Covid certificate to access events, clubs and restaurants?

However with infections rising and vaccination rates slowing, the Swiss government has indicated it may expand the areas where the certificate is required to include bars and restaurants, as well as smaller events. 

While early government predictions estimated that “full vaccination of the adult population (two doses) will be completed by the end of July 2021”, this benchmark has not been reached.

As of July 27th, just over 47 percent of Switzerland’s residents have received both shots — well below the 60-percent minimum set by the Federal Council.

And the overall pace of vaccinations has slowed down considerably in the past weeks as many people left for summer holidays.

Some have suggested going further to make vaccinations compulsory for employees in some industries, however this does not have widespread support. 

READ MORE: Switzerland considers Covid certificates for restaurants as vaccination rates slow

Summer’s glorious farewell

Although it’s hard to predict given climate change-induced wacky weather, August tends to bring with it the last warm days in Switzerland before the autumn chill of September kicks in. 

The average weather for Switzerland in August is just above 15C, with some regional variations. 

In Zurich, temperatures can reach 24C (low of 15C), with 11 days of rain on average in August. 

It’s slightly warmer in Geneva 26C, with a low of 13C and only eight days of rain. 

Basel averages between 15C and 25C, with nine days of rain. 

Statistik: Durchschnittliche Temperatur in der Schweiz von Juni 2020 bis Juni 2021 | Statista
Mehr Statistiken finden Sie bei Statista

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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Reader question: How can I find a good lawyer in Switzerland?

Although you hope to never need one, sometimes you might have to seek legal advice in Switzerland. This is how to find it.

Reader question: How can I find a good lawyer in Switzerland?

When you move to a new country, including Switzerland, you have to look for a whole new network of professionals.

You may or may not have immediate need for the proverbial butcher, baker, and the candlestick maker, but sooner or later you will have to find other professionals, with the most essential one being a doctor.

READ MORE: What you should know about finding a doctor in Switzerland

Chances are you will also need, at one time or another, a legal counsel. That should in principle not be a problem as Switzerland has an abundance of lawyers — 7,317 currently practicing in the country, according to European data.

The question of how to find one that best suits your needs depends on many factors — for instance, what kind of legal advice you are seeking (estate planning, inheritance, divorce, etc), whether you speak the language of your region or need an English-speaking attorney,  and whether you can pay (the often exorbitant) fees, or need free counselling instead.

Speaking of fees, the hourly rates vary widely from one lawyer or legal practice to another, with some charging as little as 100 francs or as much as 1,000.

Much depends on the lawyer’s location — with the ones practicing in large cities like Zurich and Geneva being more expensive than their counterparts in small towns or rural regions  — the area of specialisation and general reputation — the more prominent the attorney is with a roster of famous or well-heeled clients, the higher fees they will typically charge.

An important thing to know is that, depending on the advice you are seeking, you may not need a lawyer at all, but rather a public notary; in Switzerland, these professionals perform many tasks that only attorneys can do in other countries, such as drawing contracts and establishing other legal documents.

Here are some tips on how to find a lawyer or a notary that best fits your needs:

Word of mouth

As with any other services, personal recommendations from people you know and trust are best.

This will spare you the effort of “investigating” the person, such as researching their credentials and feedback from previous clients — the due diligence process that everyone should undertake before hiring any professional.

Professional associations

If you don’t know anyone who can recommend an attorney, do your own research.

Professional organisations such as the Swiss Bar Association (SBA) and the Swiss Federation of Notaries are good resources, as they both allow you to look for professionals in or near your place of residence.

English-speaking attorneys

Many Swiss lawyers and notaries, especially those practicing in large urban centres where many foreign residents live, speak English.

But if you want to make sure yours does, the UK government put together a list of English speaking attorneys in Switzerland, which should help you with your search.

‘Free’ legal advice

In principle, all legal assistance comes at a cost, except for exceptional cases, which are defined by each canton.

SBA has a canton-by-canton list, where the designation “GRATIS JUDICATURE” stands for “free legal advice”.

However, there is also such a thing in Switzerland as “legal protection insurance” (Rechtsschutzversicherungen in German, protection juridique in French, and protezione giuridica in Italian).

It covers attorney and other associated fees if you undertake court action against someone, are sued, or simply need legal advice.

There are two different types of legal protection insurance — one specifically for traffic accidents and the other for all other matters. Sometimes they are combined.

Typically, this insurance covers costs of legal representation associated with contract disputes, employment, loans and debts, healthcare, housing, retail purchases, and travel.

The annual cost of this insurance, which you can purchase from practically every carrier in Switzerland, is minimal, especially if you consider how much you’d have to spend if you hired an attorney yourself.

Another benefit of these policies is that a lawyer will be assigned to you by the insurance company so you won’t have the headache of looking for one on your own.

This article provides more information about this insurance:

EXPLAINED: Why you need ‘legal protection insurance’ in Switzerland

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