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Today in Switzerland: A roundup 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 roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
Swiss property prices are skyrocketing. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The number of Covid infections in Switzerland soars

From just over 1,000 new cases reported daily until the beginning of this week, the number of infections has reached 1,910 on Tuesday, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

One person died and 26 patients were hospitalised. However, the hospitals are not close to the saturation point at the moment.

As was the case during the first and second waves of the pandemic, Geneva has the highest number of contaminations, followed by Basel-Country.

Federal Council is back at work

After a summer break, the seven members of the Federal Council are resuming their work today.

Despite the increase in the number of infections (see above), no new restrictions are planned for the time being

Up for discussion is the three-phase strategy, which calls for the “normalisation” of all aspects of public life.

Even when the third phase starts  — the date will be determined by the evolution of the epidemiological situation —  restrictions will not fall in one fell swoop, but be lifted gradually.

Basic measures such as the mask requirement, however, are likely to remain for some time, especially with regard to a possible fourth wave among the unvaccinated, Blick reports.

READ MORE: Six things the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us about Switzerland

The risk of a real estate bubble is growing

In the second quarter of 2021, Swiss housing prices — both for single-family homes and apartments — rose by 5.4 percent in an annual comparison. This is the most marked progression in eight years, according to a new UBS Swiss Real Estate Bubble Index.

Whereas before the pandemic it took 6.5 in average annual salaries to buy a home, it now takes 7.1. This means access to home ownership is harder today.

With regard to mortgages, volumes are 3 percent higher than in 2020. Growth rates are not yet record-breaking, but a further increase would clearly be interpreted as a warning sign, UBS said.

Areas most affected by this trend are Zurich, Geneva, Basel, and Ticino.

READ MORE: Why do so many Swiss prefer to rent rather than buy their own home?

Almost every second new car in Switzerland is an SUV 

Sports utility vehicles make up almost 35 percent of all new cars registered in the country in 2021. 

“In an alpine naton with lots of mountains, snow and ice, all-terrain vehicles are much more popular than in countries where you can drive for miles on straight roads”, auto expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, said in an interview.

However, some politicians are against these cars. “SUVs, even hybrids, are much heavier than other cars and consume a quarter more energy,” Green MP Isabelle Pasquier-Eichenberger noted.

“That is why it is imperative to reduce the number of SUVs on Swiss roads”, she added.

Thomas Rohrbach, spokesperson for the Federal Roads Office, pointed out that streets in Switzerland are not convenient for large cars. “Parking spaces are often too narrow off-road vehicles, especially in urban areas”, he said.

Vaccination is not required for prostitutes

Amid an ongoing debate about the vaccination requirement for frontline workers who are in close contact with the public, Tribune de Genève reports that prostitutes in Switzerland follow the same guidelines as other professionals — that is, inoculation is recommended but not compulsory.

However, according to Tribune’s investigation, many sex workers who advertise their services online state that they are immunised.

Those who are not vaccinated “must provide a PCR test upon arrival. They then have to do a rapid test every week and a PCR every other week”, the manager of one brothel said.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why Switzerland rejects obligatory vaccinations for some professions

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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