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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday

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

Covid certificate is needed to ski in Samnaun.
Samnaum’s proximity to Austria means skiers will have to show Covid certificates before hitting the slopes. Photo by Andrea Badrutt / Engadin Samnaun Val Müstair

The Swiss have high, though insufficient, immunity to Covid

The proportion of Switzerland’s population that is probably immune to Covid reaches 81 percent. This level of immunity was built up either through vaccination or the development of antibodies after infection.

This is how health officials calculate this rate: 75 percent of residents from 12 years of age are fully vaccinated, and figures from population studies indicate that 6 percent have recovered from the disease.

However, this percentage is still too low to lift the Covid certificate requirement, according to Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control section at the Federal Office of Public Health, as t the proportion of people without immunity to coronavirus is still high and they pose a risk of overloading the healthcare system.

A Swiss resort will require skiers to have the Covid certificate

Although Switzerland has announced in October that the certificate would not be required on the slopes this winter, one resort, Samnaun, is forced to implement the so-called “2G rule” for everyone over the age of 12 — that is, only vaccinated or recovered (but not tested) people will be allowed to hit the slopes.

The reason is a purely geographical one: this resort in Graubünden’s Engadin valley is adjacent to the Silvretta Arena area in Austria, and that country has just introduced the 2-G rule for skiing due to a worsening epidemiological situation there.

This means skiers on the Swiss side of the border will have to adhere to Austria’s rules as well. 

And in other winter sports news…

The Swiss Ski Lifts Association (RMS) has drawn up a health protection plan for the 2021-2022 winter season.

The main change compared to last year concerns the abandonment of the mask on the open chairlifts and in the queues outside.

However, masks will remain obligatory in cable cars and other closed transportation, where windows would be open for better ventilation, and distance between passengers will have to be maintained.

If the overall Covid situation deteriorates, the RMS may introduce new measures, such as limiting the number of people in cable cars to two-thirds of their total capacity.

As for Covid certificates, they will be compulsory in indoor mountain restaurants.

READ MORE: Switzerland will not require Covid certificate for winter sports

Novavax vaccine should be available in Switzerland in January

Switzerland has ordered 6 million doses of US-manufactured Novavax in 2020, and the vaccines are expected to be delivered at the beginning on 2022.

It will be the fourth vaccine to be available in Switzerland, after Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

While no application for approval has yet been submitted to the regulatory body Swissmedic, this process is already ongoing in the EU. Swiss authorisation should then be granted “promptly”, according to the Federal Office of Public Health.

Unlike Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson, Novavax is a protein-based vaccine that contains components of the virus to trigger the formation of antibodies, similar to the way flu vaccines work.

It is around 90 percent effective, according to clinical studies carried out in the UK.

‘Reverse’ shopping tourism between Switzerland and Germany

Usually, the residents of Switzerland cross the border into neighbouring countries to shop, as goods are much cheaper there.

But when it comes to shopping for petrol, the opposite is happening: drivers from Germany are queuing up at Swiss stations to fuel up their cars.

For instance, people from the Constance region of Germany come to the nearby Kreuzlingen (Thurgau) to fill up and save 20 cents per litre of unleaded fuel.

“We are seeing an increase in customers from across the border”, manager of a local petrol station told Südkurier newspaper.

The reason why filling up a tank is cheaper in Switzerland is the country’s comparatively lower tax rates on petrol. Only Austria has lower fuel taxes than Switzerland (among Switzerland’s neighbours). 

READ MORE: Where in Switzerland can you find the cheapest fuel?

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

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

From online scams to avoid to hot weather forecast: find out what's going on on Friday in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

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

Campaign launched against online shopping scams

Swiss police are warning the public against online shopping scams, including  the latest one, involving the activation of an online payment system that allows scammers to make several online purchases at the expense of the victim.

The best way to protect yourself and not fall prey to scammers, police say is to:

  • Always verify the sender and amount when receiving a payment request;
  • Never transmit a confirmation code to third parties;
  • Always check account statements;
  • Immediately report any suspicious transactions;
  • Report any such crime to the police.

All the advice and recommendations can be found on this website.

READ MORE:  How to avoid the most common online scams in Switzerland

Free travel for Ukrainian refugees to end

Since March 21st, refugees from Ukraine have traveled free of charge in on public transportation in Switzerland, a service which was provided by the federal government.

This perk, however, will end from June 1st.

“This free travel saved us from considerable administrative work, as these people would have had to be issued transport cards for each stage of their registration procedure”, according to Anne Césard, spokesperson for the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

A number of MPs are challenging this decision, however.

 “If these people can no longer travel for free, this will constitute an additional obstacle to their chances of integration, knowing that the financial aid granted to them is very low”, said Pierre-Yves Maillard.

“As long as the majority of these people cannot meet their needs sufficiently, we must continue to help them by extending this free service, even if it is in the form of a subsidy”, said another deputy , Benjamin Roduit.

United States impressed by Swiss sanctions

The US government has praised what Switzerland has done so far in the search for Russian funds to block, according to Scott Miller, the American ambassador to Switzerland.

Bern has made “immense progress” in freezing about  6.3 billion francs, belonging primarily to Russian oligarchs with ties to president Putin.

“This is a package of sanctions of a weight and breadth that, to be honest, have never been seen in the world”, he added.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why Switzerland is a magnet for Russian money
 

Get ready to be very hot today

If Swiss meteorologists got it right, temperatures will reach the high of 32 degrees today.

“The current heat wave is relatively extreme for a month of May”, said meteorologist Joshua Gehring from official weather service MeteoSwiss.

Screenshot MeteoSwiss

The reason: “What we are currently experiencing, that is to say a relatively early heat wave, is a direct consequence of climate change”, Gehring noted.

READ MORE: Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

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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