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

More heavy snowfall is expected for the weekend.
Heavy snowfall in the Alps could cause avalanches in the coming days. Photo by t e y a on Unsplash
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Omicron: Portugal, two other countries added to Swiss list of countries at risk

As of today,  Portugal, Canada, Nigeria and Japan are on the list of countries at risk. This means arrivals from these countries, including Swiss citizens and permanent residents returning to Switzerland, need to present a negative test on arrival and must quarantine for 10 days. This is the case even if people are vaccinated or have recovered from the virus.

They will have to do another test between day 4 and day 7, along with informing cantonal authorities.

The UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and 16 other countries are already on Switzerland’s fast-expanding “virus variant of concern” list.

The entire list, to date, can be seen here.

Swiss government convenes today for an emergency meeting

The Federal Council is holding a “crisis” meeting today to discuss whether to implement stricter Covid measures amid worsening epidemiological situation and the new danger posed by the Omicron variant.

It was widely expected that the Federal Council, which last week renounced to introduce new national restrictions, would wait until after the November 28th Covid law referendum, to announce tougher rules.

READ MORE: Will Switzerland tighten measures after successful Covid referendum?

According to media reports, the new measures could include limiting the number of participants at  private events from 30 to 10, a shorter validity period for coronavirus tests, and / or the expansion of the mask requirement.

The new measures would be announced before Christmas.

READ MORE: What new Covid-19 rules are likely in Switzerland?

Could the fourth dose of Covid vaccine be needed against Omicron?

Swiss epidemiologists are saying the fourth “booster” shot is not out of the questions to manage the Omicron mutation.

While not much is known about the strain at this time — for instance, how infectious or dangerous it is — some experts believe the fourth dose may become necessary.

The good news is that the current mRNA-type vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna “can be quickly adapted to protect against new variants”, said infectious disease specialist Christian Garzoni.

However, according to Emma Hodcroft, epidemiology expert at the University of Bern, “it will be necessary to ensure that the current vaccines protect against the new variant before considering a fourth dose”.

Swiss hotels fear new closures

After having been strongly impacted by the pandemic for more than a year and a half, Switzerland’s hotel sector is again experiencing a growing number of booking cancellations, while new reservations are scarce, according to a press release by umbrella organisation Hotelleriesuisse.

This situation is explained by the new quarantine rules imposed on guests coming from countries important for the sector such as the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The association “hopes that further confinement can be avoided, because for a large part of Swiss hotels, a normal winter season is central. The tourism branch generates a large part of its income during the winter months”.

READ MORE: Clarification: Switzerland imposes quarantine on all arrivals from UK

Beware: high avalanche danger exists in some regions of the Alps

The snow that has fallen in some mountain regions in recent days has created an avalanche danger. It is strong (degree 4 out of 5) in the Bernese Oberland and in the Glarus Alps. For much of the remaining Alpine areas, it is degree 3, according to the Institute for the Study of Snow and Avalanches.

Along the mountains, 50 centimetres of fresh snow was measured over thr weekend, with 5 to 20 centimeters falling again on the northern slope of the Alps in recent hours.

More heavy snowfall is expected for the weekend.

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


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