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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
In ther dark of the night...Cassandre Berdoz is announcing the hours. Photo by Ville de Lausanne

Switzerland added to UK’s Covid travel green list

From August 30th at 4 am, travellers from Switzerland will no longer be required to quarantine when arriving in the United Kingdom, regardless of their vaccination status — though they have to take a pre-departure test and another one two days after arrival.

“We’ve updated our travel lists further cautiously easing international travel”, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said of the less restrictive measures.

READ MORE: Switzerland added to UK’s Covid travel green list

New study: Covid ‘self-tests’ are not reliable

Researchers at University of Bern have found that coronavirus test kits, which allow people to test at home, are not sufficiently accurate.

They reported that 12,400 infected people in Switzerland were not detected by the home kits; out of 141cases of contamination, the self-test detected only two out of three.

The tests are least accurate in asymptomatic cases.

“These people may be lulled into a false sense of security. There is a potential risk that the use of this type of tests will fuel the pandemic rather than slow it down”, researchers noted.

Self-tests are not accurate, researchers say. Photo by Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP 

Swiss to vote on later retirement age

The Federal Chancellery has confirmed the successful completion of the pension initiative introduced by the Young Liberal Radicals (JLR), who collected 107,000 valid signatures – 7,000 more than required for voting.

The initiative seeks to raise the retirement age to 66 for both sexes, from the current 64 for women and 65 for men.

The goal, according to Matthias Müller, JLR’s president, is to boost the coffers of the country’s old-age insurance scheme, “so that all generations, and above all the young and future generations, can receive a decent pension”.

The date for the nationwide vote has not yet been set.

READ MORE: How does the Swiss pension system work – and how much will I receive?

Health Minister under heavy guard

Tonight, Alain Berset will take part in a TV programme “Arena” on Swiss-German television, where he will participate in a heated debate about Switzerland’s handling of the Covid pandemic.

“As the subject is very controversial, attacks against the health minister are to be feared”, Blick reports.

In order to ensure his safety, the Zurich police will send agents of the “Scorpion” force to protect Berset. It is a special unit of elite officers, normally deployed in shootings or hostage-taking situations. 

Switzerland’s budget to return to normal in 2022

After two years marked by heavier-than-usual spending due to  Covid-19, the federal budget will again be balanced.

In addition to the ordinary budget, the Federal Council provides for extraordinary expenditure of 925 million francs in the fight against the pandemic, which also includes the cost of the vaccines.

In total, revenue forecast for 2021 amounts to 78.6 billion francs, an increase of 3.3 percent.

This is due in particular to direct federal taxes, companies in the financial and pharmaceutical sectors having been largely spared by the coronavirus crisis.

Hear ye, hear ye, Lausanne’s cathedral has a new crier

Since June, Vaud’s capital has been searching for a new town crier, someone to announce the hours every night between 10pm and 2am from the bell tower of the city’s imposing Gothic cathedral.

The position has just been filled by Cassandre Berdoz, the first woman to have this job since it was created in 1405, municipal authorities announced.

Aside from watching over the city and announcing each hour in a melodious voice, her nightly duties include climb 53 stone steps to the cathedral’s bell tower and absolutely no falling asleep on the job.

READ MORE: Hear ye, here ye! This Swiss city is looking for a town crier

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] to vote on later retirement age

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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