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

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 Tuesday
A new shopping concept. Photo by Migrolino press service

Mu variant is present in Switzerland

So far, this new strain was identified in 34 people in Switzerland, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).  

FOPH classified this new mutation, discovered in Colombia, as a variant “to watch”.

There is a potential risk that Mu could resist vaccines, but this is not yet confirmed.

Thomas Steffen, cantonal doctor of Basel-City, told 20 Minutes a Mu “super wave” is not expected to hit Switzerland, where Delta is still a dominant strain, accounting for 97.9 percent of all Covid infections.

And FOPH spokesperson Grégoire Gogniat noted “there is currently no indication that Mu is replacing Delta” in Switzerland.

Covid infections among children are soaring

The number of coronavirus cases among students has increased after the return from  summer holidays.

This is especially the case in the Swiss-German cantons, where school resumed earlier  than in the French-speaking region.

In Zurich, for instance, 855 children aged 4 to 15 have been placed in quarantine since the start of the school year in mid-August.

However, Rudolf Hauri, president of the association of cantonal doctors, said the real number of cases is likely higher, because not all schools carry out regular tests.

He stressed that serial testing is an important measure against the spread of the virus, as it allows to quickly detect cases. And he recommends vaccination for children and adolescents over 12 years of age.

READ MORE: Switzerland to start Covid vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds

Bern sanctions corona-skeptic doctors

The canton of Bern has taken measures against two doctors for publicly speaking out against Covid vaccination and urging their patients not to get the shots.

Details of the cases and penalties imposed were not disclosed but authorities stressed that  medical professionals who vocally oppose vaccination constitute a danger for public health.

The canton is also investigating other similar cases, one of which concerns a surgeon and sports doctor who had launched a public appeal for people to oppose both screening tests and wearing a protective mask.

Petition launched against compulsory train reservations for bicycles

A large alliance of 14 organisations defending the interests of cyclists presented Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) with a petition against the obligatory reservations for transporting a bicycle on the train.

More than 54,000 signatures have been collected.

The groups argue that compulsory reservations will make transporting bicycles more expensive and more complicated.

This reservation requirement has been in effect on InterCity trains since the end of March.

Biking groups don0t want reservations. Photo by SBB

A new shopping concept launched in Zurich

Migrolino, a branch of Migros supermarket, is launching a new “Gooods” store at Zurich’s Tiefenbrunnen train station on Thursday.

Products there can be scanned directly with the mobile phone and paid for at the checkout.

“With this concept we want to pick up on new trends”, said project manager Alexandra Vogel, adding that new Gooods locations will open soon in other train stations, as well as in town centres and petrol stations, on surfaces of up to 250 m2.

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 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