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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
The group behind the initiative says cash is king. Photo by Claudio Schwartz, Unsplash

The number of Covid infections skyrockets

With the number of new daily contaminations now exceeding 3,000 — nearly a double of numbers recorded last week — coronavirus cases are now reaching levels similar to those of the second wave in the fall 2020.

The increase is particularly strong among young people, including children.

The number of Covid patients in hospitals, which until now has been relatively low, is also rising.

As an example, at the beginning of July, there were two to three coronavirus-related hospital admissions per day. Currently, the number has increased tenfold, according to Patrick Mathys, head of the crisis management section at the Federal Office of Public Health.

In contrast, the number of deaths —one to two per day— remains low.

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

Aldi Switzerland recalls a product

The supermarket chain is recalling the Primana “Snack box party” product in the 450-gramme pack, manufactured by Frostkrone and available in different varieties.

Contaminants have been found in some of these boxes, though Aldi hasn’t specified which ones.

As a preventive measure, the product was immediately withdrawn from sale. Those who have purchased it must not consume it and can bring it back to any branch, where the purchase price will be refunded, even in the absence of a cash receipt.

READ MORE: Reader question: Under what conditions can I return a purchase to a store in Switzerland?

The name game: and the winners are…

Each year for more than three decades, the Federal Statistical Office has been publishing the first names of infants born in Switzerland.

The most popular names in 2020 for girls were Mia, followed by Emma and Mila.

For boys, Noah took the top spot, ahead of Liam and Matteo.

Housing prices keep going up

The Federal Statistical Office has also published data indicating that the Swiss residential property price index (IMPI) rose by 2.2 percent in the second quarter of 2021 (April to June).

During this period, prices of single-family houses went up by 2.6 percent and those of apartments by 1.8 percent. Both market segments showed higher prices in all residential areas across Switzerland.

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

Launch of a referendum to keep cash payments in Switzerland

A citizens’ committee has launched an initiative – a form of popular referendum – named “Yes to a free and independent Swiss currency in the form of coins or banknotes”.

The referendum was launched by the Swiss Freedom Movement, which is best known for its conspiracy theory and Covid vaccine sceptic activism. 

The referendum has been launched as a consequence of the Covid pandemic, which has seen a significant shift towards card and device payment rather than the colourful notes of the Swiss franc. 

READ MORE: Could coronavirus end the Swiss love affair with cash?

It demands that cash be always available in sufficient quantity and not be replaced by credit and debit cards.

“Cash is a symbol of freedom, independence and security,” said Richard Kohler, president of the Swiss Freedom Movement (MLS), the group behind the initiative.

For him, “it is a simple and accessible alternative to electronic payments for the elderly or those refusing any other means of payment by philosophical conviction”.

The initiative will be put to a vote if it receives enough signatures, with the organisers getting a year and a half to collect the 100,000 signatures necessary to put it to a vote. 

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 Monday

Health insurance premiums to rise, authorities could ban electric heaters, recession worries ease and more news from Switzerland on Monday.

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

Unemployment remains at 2 percent in Switzerland

In Switzerland, unemployment remains at a very low level, Watson news site reported. At 2 percent, the unemployment rate is as low as over twenty years ago.

At the end of July, 91,474 people were registered as unemployed at the Regional Employment Centers (RAV). This is 1,037 less than in June and 36,805 less than a year ago, as the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) announced Monday.

Last month, fewer people in Switzerland were looking for a job. According to Seco, the number of job seekers continued to decline by 5,629 compared to June to 163,315. A year ago, almost 220,000 job seekers were registered with the RAV.

READ ALSO: When is best to look for a job in Switzerland?

Health insurance premiums to rise in 2023

Health insurance premiums are set to rise by almost 10 percent in some cantons, with the highest increases in Ticino, Neuchâtel, and Graubünden, the new site NZZ writes.

According to an Accenture study, the prices need to “catch up” to higher costs in the health care system. But the corona pandemic and various special effects would also have contributed to the current situation.

READ ALSO: How is the Swiss healthcare system different from the rest of Europe?

Authorities threaten to ban electric heaters

The Federal Office for Economic State Supply (BWL) fears that there may be a lack of electricity in an already tight power supply due to many additional mobile electric heaters over the winter, Tagesanzeiger reports. “In this context, the use of electrical appliances could be restricted or prohibited,” says business administration spokeswoman Evelyne Kobelt.

The basis for the ban or a restriction would be the State Supply Act, which provides for such restrictive measures in the event of a severe power shortage.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why you should hold off on buying electric heaters in Switzerland

No recession for Switzerland, forecasters say

Switzerland does not expect to dip into recession this year despite the threat of an energy supply squeeze, the government’s chief economist said Sunday.

The Swiss economy is “doing well” despite the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy prices, Eric Scheidegger told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

He said it was down to companies to steel themselves for the possibility of power shortages in the winter months.

“We may have to revise our economic forecast downwards for next year. The revised forecast will be published on September 20. However, we do not expect a recession for this year,” Scheidegger said.

“We run the risk of an energy supply bottleneck in winter. If there are persistent production interruptions in the EU and we ourselves have a gas shortage, it becomes problematic.

Sperm banks are preparing for increased demand

Sperm banks in Switzerland are getting ready for higher demand after same-sex marriage was approved in the country and artificial insemination is allowed for lesbian married couples.

Since July, with the entry into force of marriage for all, female couples have had access to artificial insemination. And already, Swiss sperm banks have waiting lists, reports the SonntagsZeitung.

Among them is the “OVA IVF Clinic” in Zurich, which can’t offer new appointments for the first consultations until next December. However, its director, Peter Fehr, believes this influx should stabilise after the initial peak. His clinic should then help 30 to 50 lesbian couples become mothers each year.

READ ALSO: ‘Deviance and morality’: The history of the same-sex marriage movement in Switzerland

Sunny and hot in Switzerland this Monday

The weather should be sunny and hot today in Switzerland, according to the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss.

Temperatures will be between 16C and 29C in Geneva, 15C and 32C in Sion, 14C and 27C in Bern, 14C and 30C in Basel, 16C and 27C in Zurich, 17C and 27C in Chur, and 16C and 30C in Lugano.

READ ALSO: Body stress, drought and borders: How the heatwave affects Switzerland