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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
SWISS cabin crew must be vaccinated by January. Photo: SWISS press photo

Delta variant now accounts for all Covid cases in Switzerland

The quick-spreading and highly contagious Delta strain is now responsible for 100 percent of infections detected in Switzerland, according to data from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Image by FOPH

However, the overall situation is getting better, with the R-rate, which indicates how quickly the virus spreads through the community, now at 0.74.

When it falls below 1, epidemiologists see it as a sign of improvement and a positive development in the fight against the pandemic.

Geneva restaurants to heat their terraces in winter

In order to allow outdoor spaces of restaurants to stay open despite cold weather — and accommodate people who don’t have a Covid certificate — cantonal authorities have authorised heaters to be installed outside the establishments.

However, these heaters must meet strict environmental criteria, officials said.

Electric infrared heaters, for instance, are prohibited. Only the ones that use natural wood are allowed, and in the event of a peak in fine particle pollution, they have to be turned off.

Covid certificate could be required to ski in Switzerland

As the beginning of the ski season is only several weeks away, the question of the certificate requirement to access the slopes is being debated in Switzerland.

Lukas Engelberger, president of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors, said that the certificate should be compulsory for everyone skiing in Swiss resorts.

However, people in charge of ski areas are against this requirement, preferring to maintain the same conditions as last winter: wearing a mask on ski lifts and cable cars, and respecting distances in queues.

Skiing near the Matterhorn. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

MP proposes a new national holiday to celebrate Swiss democracy

Deputy Heinz Siegenthaler from Bern is calling on the Federal Council to introduce a new public holiday on September 12th to celebrate the founding of modern Switzerland on that day in 1848.

He argues that while August 1st commemorates the founding of Switzerland in 1291, no one celebrates the creation of the federal state, such as we know it today, which dates back to September 12th, 1848.

“Concepts of great value, such as direct democracy, the rule of law, and the separation of powers, were launched on that date”, he said.

So far, there is no response from the federal authorities to Siegenthaler’s proposal.

READ MORE: Why is Bern the ‘capital’ of Switzerland?

SWISS airline could dismiss unvaccinated employees

The national airline announced in August that all cabin crew must be inoculated against Covid by November 15th.

Now the carrier said all “flying personnel” that is not fully vaccinated could face termination.

However, SWISS extended the deadline for the shots until January 2022.

“For employees who need more time to make decisions about vaccinations, there is the option of suspending their employment”, according to the company spokesperson.

Once inoculated, these people can return to work within the period of six months, but anyone who refuses to be vaccinated faces termination at the end of January “due to the breach of duty”.

The airline’s vaccination rate is slightly higher than that of the general population, which is currently 55 percent, the spokesperson said.

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

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]