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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
Johnson & Johnson vaccines are expected in Switzerland next week. Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP

A pleasant surprise: price of health insurance premiums will drop in 2022

For the first time in 14 years, the cost of premiums for the compulsory insurance will fall slightly — 0.2 percent on average, the Federal Council announced.

In 2022, the average monthly premium for basic health insurance will amount to 315.30, or 70 cents less than in 2021. In the last 10 years, on the other hand, it had risen by 2.4 percent per year on average.

The biggest price drop — 2.6 percent — will be in Basel-City, followed by Geneva (1.5 percent), while premiums in Obwalden will rise by 1.4 percent.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine to arrive in Switzerland next week

The Federal Council has informed the cantons that it will receive about 150,000 doses on October 5th.

The number of doses shipped to each canton is determined by its population. Most doses (26,000) will be sent to Zurich, followed by Bern (18,000) and Vaud (14,000). The canton of Aargau will be assigned 12,000 doses, 9,000 in St. Gallen, 8,000 in Geneva, and 6,000 in Ticino.

The cantons will administer the vaccine, manufactured by the US company Janssen, to people over the age of 18 who have severe allergies and can’t be inoculated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

These candidates will have to prove their eligibility — for instance, with a letter from their doctor or other relevant documentation.

READ MORE: Switzerland prepares to roll out Johnson and Johnson vaccine

Covid tests cost taxpayers over 4 million francs a day

The cost of coronavirus screening — and who should pay for it — is stirring up controversy in Switzerland, with the Federal Council and the parliament disagreeing on this issue.

Health Minister Alain Berset announced that the tests will no longer be free of charge for the unvaccinated residents, but political parties from both left and right are insisting the government should continue paying for antigen tests for as long as the Covid certificate requirement remains in place, that is, until January 24th, 2022 at the earliest.

If the tests were to remain free until this date, they would cost the federal government around 770 million francs.

The Council of States will weigh in on this issue today.

READ MORE: UPDATED: Switzerland extends free testing deadline

More people in Switzerland are fully vaccinated than originally thought

The number of residents considered to be fully inoculated was revised upwards — from 54.9 percent to 57.9 percent, as the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is now taking into account people who had recovered from Covid and were administered only one dose. 

Before the correction, people who received one post-infection dose of vaccine were counted as “partially vaccinated”, a category which also includes people awaiting their second shot.

Basel-City now has the highest full vaccination rate (62 percent), followed by Zurich (61.3), Ticino (61), Basel-Country (60.8), with Zug and Vaud having reached 60.5 percent.

Appenzell Innerrhoden is trailing behind the rest of the country with only 47.1 percent of vaccinated residents.

READ MORE: Covid-19 in Switzerland: The situation is improving, but will it last?

Swiss army renames a “racist” dish

One of the dishes the military routinely served its recruits was called “Reispfanne Zigeuner Art”, which means “rice gypsy style”. But after the Federal Commission against Racism (CFR) deemed the description racist, another name had to be found for the dish.

The meal is still served but it is now called “Reispfanne mit Rindfleisch und Paprika”, or rice with beef and peppers.

The army said that no other dish on its menu had to be renamed because of an offensive or unacceptable name.

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]