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

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

New tunnel is dug through the Gotthard mountain in Swiss Alps.
“Artery of Switzerland”: New tunnel will be built through the massive Gotthard mountain. Photo by MICHAEL BUHOLZER / AFP

Switzerland still not planning the third vaccine dose at federal level

Even though booster shots are already administered in some countries, Switzerland has no immediate plans to do so, according to Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control section at the Federal Office of Public Health.

She attributed this hesitancy to lack of scientific evidence in support of booster shots, explaining that various research studies “have not reached consensus” on this subject.

“We would have to know after how many months the immunity decreases. We don’t see any reduction in protection at this time. So It is more important to give a dose to unvaccinated people than to offer boosters”,  Masserey added.

READ MORE: Which Swiss cantons are already offering Covid booster shots?

Most Swiss support Covid certificate requirement

A new survey shows that two in three residents of Switzerland back the extension of the certificate to restaurants and other public places.

Respondents were also asked to estimate the percentage of those who say they are opposed to the certificate. On average, their forecast was 56 percent, well above the 33 percent who actually said they were against it.

“The opposition to the extension of the certificate is perceived by the population to be stronger than it really is,” said Lukas Leeman of the LeeWas Institute, which conducted the the poll on behalf of Tamedia media group.

Work on the second Gotthard road tunnel has began

A symbolic blast opened the construction of the second Gotthard road tube connecting  Göschenen in canton Uri with Airolo in Ticino.

At the inauguration ceremony of this monumental project, Jürg Röthlisberger, director of the Federal Roads Office, called the future 16.9-km tunnel  the “artery of Switzerland”.

Some 7.4 million tonnes of rock will be extracted from the mountain in order to dig the tunnel, to be opened to traffic at the end of 2029.

Swiss voters approved the construction of the second tube in 2016. It will be built be built 70 meters eastward of the first, at the cost 0f 2 billion francs.

Dual nationality of MPs and federal councillors must be made public

The parliament voted to accept this proposal, made by Marco Chiesa, a deputy from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP).

Chiesa said that MPs and members of the Federal Council must divulge any second citizenship they may hold in order to guarantee greater transparency.

He argued that as dual nationality could influence parliamentarians’ decisions “this information must be made public”.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: Where do Switzerland’s dual nationals live?

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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For members


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

Efforts to prevent SWISS pilots strike, sanctions for energy abusers, and other news in our roundup on Friday.

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

Goodbye summer, welcome fall

Today is the so-called Autumnal Equinox, which marks the start of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, including in Switzerland.

Given the summer heatwave that reigned (rather than rained) in Switzerland much of the summer, many people are probably longing for the cooler temperatures and golden foliage typical of the fall season.

Image by Valentin from Pixabay

SWISS proposes out-of-court arbitration to the pilots’ association

In order to avoid a strike by SWISS pilots in the middle of autumn school vacations on October 17th, and as long-winded negotiations between the pilots’ union and the airline are not productive, SWISS has proposed to settle the differences in arbitration.

“After more than two years of intensive negotiations, a new collective labour agreement has still not been concluded. The aim of the out-of-court arbitration is to work out a non-binding recommendation over the next few weeks”, the airline said in a statement on Thursday.

It added that Switzerland’s flagship airline “is convinced of a common solution in the sense of a good Swiss compromise”.

The pilot’s union, Aeropers, has not yet replied nor rescinded its threat to strike.

READ MORE: SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

Cantons ask federal government to set fines for energy abusers 

On September 1st, the Federal Council presented its action plan to avoid energy shortages, including lowering the indoor heating to 19 degrees.

In a letter to the Federal Council, cantons are asking for uniform sanctions across the country in the event that federal rules are not respected.

They want clarifications about who will have the responsibility for the control and issuing of fines in case of non-compliance.

The cantons are concerned that no uniform rules will exist, but instead different regional  measures will be in place, as was the case during the Covid pandemic.

Pfizer seeks approval for a bivalent Covid vaccine

The manufacturer has submitted an application to the drug regulator, Swissmedic, for authorisation of its bivalent vaccine against coronavirus to be used as a second booster.

The new vaccine is “intended to stimulate production of specific neutralising antibodies against Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5”, the strains that are currently predominant in Switzerland and elsewhere”, Swissmedic said.

In August, the regulator has approved the use of Moderna’s bivalent vaccine which targets Omicron subvariants. It should be available for use from October 10th.

READ MORE: Switzerland to start dual-strain Covid boosters in October

Best Swiss cheese to be selected today

The Valais community of Val de Bagnes is holding The Swiss Cheese Championships to determine the best variety.

Cheeses in 32 categories are vying for the coveted title of Best Cheese in an event that brings together 300 producers from all regions of Switzerland.

To prove that Swiss cheeses are loved all over the world, the winner will be determined by an international panel. Aside from Swiss jurors, there are also some from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and even Japan.

Each one of them has a very tough job of tasting 40 cheeses for five to six hours before choosing the winner later today.

READ MORE: Ten varieties of cheese you should be able to identify if you live in Switzerland

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]