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

Over 1,100 fines were handed out to Swiss shoppers returning from abroad on March 2020.
Customs officer at the German-Swiss border is stopping the cars to check for shopping offenders before Covid-19 ordinance went into effect in April 2020. Photo by NICHOLAS RATZENBOECK / AFP
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Swiss hospitals can still become overcrowded, Health Ministry warns

Even though the number of Covid-related infections and hospitalisations has been declining lately, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is warning that the current downward trend will likely not last.

That’s because infections are on the rise in several cantons and the decrease observed in recent weeks has reached a plateau, according to Patrick Mathys, head of FOPH’s crisis management section.

“Unfortunately, the situation is getting worse and must be qualified as unfavourable ”, Mathys said, adding that “there are still too many people exposed to the virus, including in risk groups”.

Other Swiss experts have previously stated that cold weather will bring more people — including the unvaccinated ones —i ndoors, causing more contaminations.

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

Return of direct flights between Geneva and New York

After being suspended in March 2020 due to the pandemic, the non-stop flights from Geneva’s Cointrin  to two New York airports are being resumed after the United States reopens its borders from November 8th.

United Airlines will start flying between Newark and Geneva from November  and SWISS will operate  up to four flights a week to JKF from December 14th.

The Geneva -New York line is one of the historic flagships of Cointrin airport. Inaugurated in 1947, it aimed in particular to link the two United Nations centres, serving as a diplomatic bridge for international Geneva.

Direct flights between Zurich and the two US airports will also resume in November.

Other airlines will also expand their service between the US airports and the two Swiss hubs.

You can see here (in German) which US-bound flights are planned.

READ MORE: UPDATE: US to lift travel ban for vaccinated Europeans on November 8th

Government admits mistakes in fining “shopping tourism” in 2020

Under pressure from the Council of States, the Federal Council conceded that it unjustly imposed fines on drivers returning from shopping trips in France, Italy and Germany at the beginning of the pandemic.

The Federal Council imposed entry restrictions in mid-March 2020, but that still didn’t stop Swiss residents from shopping abroad, prompting the Federal Customs Administration (AFD)  to issue fines at border crossings from March 23rd.

However, the Council of States pointed out that specific administrative sanctions that were established in the Covid-19 ordinance started only from April 17th.

A total of 1,140 fines were issued without legal basis between March 30th and April 16th, 2020; the AFD then overturned 54 in cases where shoppers proved that the fine was unjustified.

Other cases will be reviewed as well and fines that were unjustly imposed will be refunded , AFD said.

The Federal Council admitted “some deficiencies” in the treatment of cross-border shoppers until April 17th, attributing this to a tense situation and a “huge workload” during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Switzerland is still the most popular country for internationals

Despite the high cost of living, foreign nationals value the quality of life in Switzerland, making the country the top destination for expatriates for the third year in a row, according to a new study by HSBC Bank.

After settling in the country, 91 percent of those polled thought their environment was better, and 86 percent felt safer.

Australia and New Zealand were ranked second and third, followed by the United Arab Emirates, the Channel Islands Guernsey and Jersey, along with the Isle of Man, Bahrain and Qatar. Long ranked highly, Singapore slipped into ninth place.

The survey was carried out among 20,460 people living in 46 countries.

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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