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

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 Friday
Failed exchange of snakes took place at the border. PHOTO BY INTI OCON / AFP

Government sends a reminder to test after return from vacation

If you have returned from abroad in the past few days, you may have received a text message when crossing the border.

This message, sent out by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) urges you to get tested, unless you are vaccinated or recovered from Covid.

The text was provided to the three main mobile operators in the country. But the decision to send it or not is up to them, as they bear the cost of this operation.

Sunrise said it is sending this message to all its customers returning to Switzerland. At Salt, the text is sent exclusively to foreign tourists if their phone is connected to the operator’s network in the country.

However, Switzerland’s largest telecom operator, Swisscom, has decided not to send this message to its customers when they return from their trip.

Testing will be free in Switzerland only until the end of September, with the government announcing on Wednesday that people will need to pay at least CHF50 for a test from October 1st in a bid to boost vaccination numbers

FOPH sends alerts to get tested after the holidays. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

“The virus is not going away”, Swiss health expert warns

The intensity of the new coronavirus wave will depend on the number of people who are vaccinated, according to Martin Ackermann, outgoing president of thr Covid-19 Task Force.

“But it is clear that the virus is not going to go away. Unvaccinated people will sooner or later be infected”, he said.

Three million people in Switzerland have no immunity to the virus —far more than the number of people who have been infected so far, Ackermann noted.

“If unimmunised people are infected within a few months, it will lead to many hospitalisations”.

READ MORE: MAPS: Where are Switzerland’s new coronavirus hotspots?

More immigrants in Switzerland in the first half of the year

In the first six months of 2021, immigration to Switzerland increased by 3.9 percent, compared to the same period of 2020, according to a new report released by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

These developments are mainly due to the fact that, compared to the first pandemic wave of spring 2020, more third-country nationals came to Switzerland.

Net migration amounted to 26,008 people. In all, 2,128,812 foreigners were residing in Switzerland at the end of June 2021.

An “incident” at the Swiss-French border

Since today is Friday, we would like to bring you some wacky news for a change.

Swiss media reported that two men in their early 20s, one a resident of Switzerland and the other of France, decided to exchange their pet boas.

Both snakes are reportedly protected species and their trade is forbidden.

Nevertheless, the two men decided to make the exchange — not in a dark alley somewhere in the middle of the night, but in full daylight at one of the Swiss-French border crossings near Geneva. They opened the boxes containing the snakes and proceeded to swap them in full view of the border guards.

Custom officers swooped in, seizing the boas.

Though an infraction was committed, this incident is…bordering on comical.

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 Tuesday

Swiss workers need wage rises and rent prices rise in Zurich in the latest roundup of news from Switzerland on Tuesday.

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

Swiss workers should get wage increase of ‘up to 5 percent in 2023’

Trade Union Travail Suisse has demanded a general wage rise of between 3 and 5 percent for all workers in the country in 2023.

The rise would allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living in the country as well as to compensate workers for an increase in productivity.

Thomas Bauer an economist from Travail Suisse argues that Switzerland’s economy is in good health at the moment but workers have seen little benefit in terms of wage rises. They have only see prices rise and stress levels increase.

“That has to change urgently,” he said.

That argument was echoed by Johann Tscherrig from the Syna trade union who said: “All workers must get their fair share of the fruits of growth” as they work “to the maximum of their abilities”.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Rent prices stable in July but increase in Zurich

Rent prices in Switzerland did not see an increase last month for the first time in a year, according to the property site Homegate.

But although July saw prices stagnate or even sightly decrease, the bigger picture shows that rents continue to rise, especially in Switzerland’s cities.

Over the last year they have increased 2 percent in Switzerland as a whole and as much as 6.4 percent in Zurich.

The canton of Graubünden saw a 4.3 percent rise compared to last year whilst rents in the cantons of Nidwalden (+7.3%) and Schwyz (+4.7%) also rose steeply.

Homegate put the general rise down to the fact that “both the number of vacant homes and the number of building permit applications are down, while demand remains high due to immigration.”

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Where in Europe have house prices and rent costs increased the most?

Wolf population in Alps growing exponentially

The number of wolves in the Alps continues to grow but there are concerns that available habitat will soon become too restricted as the population of the wild animal grows exponentially.

The organisation Groupe Loup Suisse (Swiss Wolf group) said the wolf population across the Alps was growing by 25 percent to 30 percent each year.

With around 300 wolf packs living in the Alps this summer the population has occupied around half the habitable area – given that each wolf pack needs around 250 square kilometres of territory on average.

Groupe Loup Suisse estimates therefore that the Alps has around enough space for a viable population of 800 packs.

The organisation believes it’s vital to implement measures to better protect livestock from wolf attacks.

READ ALSO: Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

Chimney sweepers in high demand

The high oil and gas prices are scaring Swiss homeowners and many are not getting ready to heat their homes with wood, broadcaster SRF reported.

With that, chimney sweep services are more sought after than ever, with businesses booked weeks ahead, especially in rural areas, where wood stoves and fireplaces are more common. But inquiries from homeowners in larger cities are also increasing, the head of the Association of chimney sweeps Switzerland Paul Grässli says.

He reminds people to have their fireplaces and stoves checked regularly by professionals to avoid accidents. “If the fireplace has not been used for years, it could be dangerous, he says.

READ ALSO: How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?