Today in Switzerland For Members

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

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 17 Dec, 2021 Updated Fri 17 Dec 2021 08:34 CEST
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A hand moves 100 Swiss francs notes with 1000 Swiss francs notes as background on October 27, 2008 in Lausanne. The Swiss franc was being traded at a historic high point of 1.43 franc against the euro on Monday as investors turned to the franc for protection and recession concerns weighed down on the eurozone. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)

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

The rules for entering Switzerland could change again

Among the new anti-Covid measures that are set to be announced today, the Federal Council is expected to modify its current rules pertaining to entering Switzerland from abroad.

According to media reports, the requirement to present a PCR test upon arrival could be cancelled for vaccinated and recovered travellers, and the option of a (quicker and cheaper) antigen test may be adapted instead.

Cantons Zurich and Bern are going even farther by pushing for the abandonment of all entry tests for the vaccinated and cured, while Vaud is in favour of PCR tests but would eliminate the second test (PCR or antigen) to be performed between the fourth and seventh day after entry.

READ MORE: Travel: What are Switzerland’s Covid test requirements?

‘Blacklists’ of people not paying insurance premiums to continue

Following the Council of States, the National Council voted to maintain blacklists of those who are in arrears for their compulsory health insurance premiums. These people are only allowed treatment in case of health emergency but not for any other medical care.

Currently, only the cantons of Aargau, Lucerne, Ticino, Zug and Thurgau use these lists.

Left-wing parties argued against this move, however, saying that “these suspensions pose not only a danger to the individual, but also to public health. In the case of infectious illnesses, limited access to medical care can lead to the spread of diseases, which is unacceptable”.

Léonore Porchet, Green Party MP stressed that limiting or prohibiting access to healthcare was unconstitutional, saying Switzerland “must not penalise” non-payers as this would endanger an “economically-weak population”.

The number of people in Switzerland who don’t pay for their premiums is estimated at 30,000.

No surprise here: Switzerland is still Europe’s most expensive country

In 2020, Switzerland's purchasing power parity at the level of gross domestic product (GDP) was 1 franc 71 (EU27 = 1 euro) and the price level was 159.3 points (EU27 = 100), according to a new study published by the Federal Statistical Office.

The results diverge significantly from the averages in some categories. The highest values concern hospital services (price level index = 309.0 for Switzerland, EU27 = 100), education (275.6), and meat (251.6).

The lowest value is that of the audiovisual, photographic and computer equipment which is lower in Switzerland than the European average (99.4). Regarding GDP, Switzerland is the most expensive country in terms of price level, ahead of Iceland (144.9) and Norway (141.2).

Turkey records the lowest price level (40.8), followed by North Macedonia (45.9) and Montenegro (50.4).

Initiative against compulsory vaccination is filed

Swiss Freedom Movement (MLS) association has filed an initiative  — called "For Freedom and Physical Integrity" — at the Federal Chancellery in Bern.The group collected 125,000 signatures — 25,000 more than needed to bring an issue to a nationwide vote.

It calls for the inclusion in the Constitution of the fundamental right of each individual to determine for themselves what can be injected or implanted in their body. The text of the initiative specifies that "the person concerned must not be punished for having refused to give his consent, nor suffer social or professional disadvantages".

This prerogative is not linked only to Covid, but also "to other vaccines, chips and  digital information that would be implanted in the body,"  said MLS president Richard Koller.

Although authorities have repeatedly said vaccinaton will not be forced on anyone, Switzerland’s Epidemics Act allows compulsory inoculation in certain extreme cases.

Incoming Swiss president Ignazio Cassis, who will take office on January 1st, has not ruled out mandatory vaccination “as a last resort” to control the pandemic.

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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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2021/12/17 08:34

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