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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.

Comfort and joy: We may finally have a merry Christmas this year.
This year’s Christmas celebrations in Switzerland could be close to normal, health experts say. be Photo by Irina Iriser from Pexels

MPs urge the government to reserve new Covid medication

Molnupiravir antiviral drug is said to greatly reduce the risk of coronavirus-related hospital admissions and deaths.

“The Federal Council should reserve the drug quickly so that Switzerland can get it early,” MP Therese Schläpfer said.

Another politician, Katharina Prelicz-Huber, is also calling on the authorities for a quick approval. “In addition to the vaccination, this drug would be a central means of lifting the Covid measures at an early stage”, she said.

However, no application for approval of Molnupiravir has been received in Switzerland to date from its US manufacturer, Merck & Co,

But unlike the vaccines, it could be accepted on the basis of the approval by European or American drug agencies in a fast-track process.

Will Switzerland have a “normal” Christmas this year?

Unlike the holiday season in 2020, when Switzerland was in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic, health experts say this year’s Christmas celebrations could be close to normal.

“It is absolutely possible that we can celebrate Christmas without taking any measures if the vaccination campaign is successful,” said Daniel Speiser, professor of immunology at the University of Lausanne.

 “We have never been so close to the end of the pandemic as we are now.”

And according to Christoph Berger, president of the Federal Commission for Vaccination Issues, “it is quite possible that we will manage to increase the vaccination rate by 10 to 15 percent, so that the Covid certificate and the mask requirement will no longer be necessary”.

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

Activists are calling for better air quality on Swiss trains

A newly formed activist group claims that the coronavirus is often transmitted on Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) via tiny droplets in the air, the so-called aerosols, especially during rush hour, when trains are full.

“The SBB must ensure that public transport is as safe as possible,” said the group’s founder Markus Leutwyler.

He carries a CO2 measuring device on train journeys and registers particularly high values at peak times.

“It is unacceptable to expose passengers to such bad air”, he noted.

For its part, the SBB  “regularly carries out our own extensive measurements with certified devices,” said spokesperson Oli Dischoe, adding that CO2 values on Swiss trains “are in the recommended healthy range”.

In addition, there are sensors in all air-conditioned train types that continuously monitor and control the CO2 concentration, he said.

However, “our experts take feedback from customers about this issue very seriously”.

“Healing” of LGBTIQ people is to be banned in Switzerland

In Switzerland there are various groups that use controversial methods of psychotherapy claiming to change a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

Now two MPs have submitted a new parliamentary initiative calling for a ban on conversion therapies, “which lead to great suffering, psychological damage and even suicidal tendencies. We cannot allow that in Switzerland”, said one of the MPs, Sarah Wyss.

The parliamentary initiative seeks to make the offering and advertising of conversion measures a criminal offense and ban “such useless and harmful ‘therapies’”.

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

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]