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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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 Monday
Cost of goods ordered abroad will go up. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Gay couples must wait nearly a year to marry

With 64.1 percent of Swiss voters in favour of legalising same-sex marriages, gay couples will be allowed to wed, but only from July 1st, 2022, according to Karin Keller-Sutter, head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police.

It will take that long to implement the new law.

The announcement was made after the government’s plan to introduce same-sex marriage was overwhelmingly accepted in a referendum on Sunday, with campaigners calling it a historic day for gay rights in Switzerland.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Swiss voters say big ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage

Updated list of high-risk countries

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has updated its list of high-risk countries in alignment with the other Schengen states.

Due to recent epidemiological developments, entry restrictions for Uruguay will be lifted while new entry restrictions will be introduced for Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brunei, Japan and Serbia. The changes will come into effect at midnight on  September 27th.

Health insurance premiums to go up

Tomorrow the residents of Switzerland will be informed about the amount of their health insurance premiums for 2022.

Santésuisse, one of the umbrella organisations managing the health funds, justifies this increase by the resumption of medical treatments this year, after a slump in 2020, when outpatient procedures had been suspended.

“We observed a strong recovery in the first half of 2021, with an increase in costs of 3.25 percent per person”, according to Christophe Kaempf, Santésuisse’s spokesperson.

However, Simon Zurich, vice-president of the Federation of Patients, said insurance companies have sufficient money reserves and should not be raising premiums.

“We are very disappointed to note that, despite a decline in medical activity in 2020, increasing premiums continue “to feed excessive reserves of health insurers”, he noted.

Foreign parcels will soon be subject to VAT

The Federal Council has adapted new Value Added Tax (VAT) rules, which will impact Swiss customers who buy goods from online sales platforms abroad.

Until now, merchandise valued at less than 65 francs was exempt from VAT, but now 7.7 percent will be added to all goods shipped from foreign countries.

Also, better control systems will be implemented to check compliance with the new rules. Anyone found not adhering to the regulation can be subject to import ban and confiscation of the merchandise.

Politicians are forcing the government to keep free Covid tests

In view of the Federal Council’s decision to start charging unvaccinated people for tests on October 10th — having extended the original deadline of October 1st—political parties are trying to keep free screening beyond that date.

An unlikely coalition of parties from both left and right, including Christian Democrats, the Greens, and Swiss People’s Party, is creating a parliamentary initiative in that regard.

“We want the tests to remain free, but only for as long as the certificate requirement remains extended,” said  socialist MP Flavia Wasserfallen

Should unvaccinated people in quarantine have their wages withheld?

Several Swiss MPs are in favour of this measure.

Deputy Beat Walti, said unvaccinated individuals must be responsible for their choices, and this burden should not be passed on to the entire community.

Lukas Schmid, from the think-tank Avenir Suisse, pointed out that this measure should be implemented only in extreme cases — for example, if an unvaccinated employee has to quarantine when returning from vacation.

A similar rule will go into effect in Germany on November 1st.
 

READ MORE: What are unvaccinated people in Switzerland still allowed to do?

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

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

The financing of the pension scheme is safe, no 'free' money will be distributed in Zurich, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Monday.

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

Swiss voters back pension scheme reform

A narrow majority of voters – 50.57 percent — approved on Sunday the government’s proposed amendment to the existing old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV / AVS), including increasing the retirement age for women from the current 64 to 65, same as for men.

This move  is seen as necessary to keep the AHV / AVS scheme afloat financially as life expectancy in Switzerland is increasing and people require pension benefits longer than in the past.

And 55.1 percent accepted a related proposal to raise the current Value Added Tax of 7.7 percent by 0.4 percent to help finance the scheme.

READ MORE: What impact could Switzerland’s referendum on pensions have on you?

Zurich’s basic income experiment rejected

Also on Sunday, 53.9 percent of Zurich voters turned down a proposal by the political left to introduce a pilot project that would dole out between 2,500 and 3,000 francs a month to 500 city residents.

The issue, which previously failed in other cities, was thought to have a bigger chance of success in Zurich, which is believed to be more “left” than other Swiss municipalities.

However, only two of Zurich’s 12 districts voted in favour of the project on Sunday.

READ MORE: ‘3,000 francs a month?’: Zurich to vote on trying universal basic income

Switzerland not prepared for nuclear attack

As fears over the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine is growing, Switzerland “is not sufficiently prepared,” for such an event, according to Urs Marti, president of the Conference of Cantonal Officials for Military Affairs and Civil Protection.

For instance, the radioactivity alarm equipment is old, and some nuclear shelters have not been properly upkept, Marti said.   

In response, the National Council’s Security Policy Commission is set to hold a special meeting to discuss ways to remedy the situation.

“We must take stock of the state of civil protection shelters,” said the Commission’s  president, Mauro Tuena.

READ MORE: Reader question: Where is my nearest nuclear shelter in Switzerland?

These Swiss cities are most dependent on imported gas

With the beginning of autumn and colder weather across Switzerland, the subject of Switzerland’s reliance on foreign energy is in the news again.

But the extent of this dependence varies from one municipality to another.

At 96 percent of imported energy, Geneva tops the chart, followed by Lugano (94 percent), Lucerne and Biel (91), Winterthur (87), Bern (83), Zurich (76), and Basel (75).

The reason big cities rely more on gas is that in densely populated areas, this energy source requires relatively little space in buildings.

REVEALED: Switzerland’s best cheese is…

 The Swiss Cheese Championships held in the Valais community of Val de Bagnes last week have come to an end.

Out of more than 1,000 cheese varieties vying for the coveted title, the international jury selected a Gruyère from the village of Montbovon in the canton of Fribourg.

The jury tasted each single cheese, basing its decision on criteria such as cheese’s appearance, taste, aroma, and texture

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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