Today in Switzerland For Members

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

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected]
Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday
Customers wearing FFP 2 protective face masks stand in front of a shelf with such masks in a supermarket in Vienna on January 25, 2021. Most of the restrictions, including mandator use of masks have fallen in many places(Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

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


Switzerland will not tighten Covid measures - for now

It came through late on Wednesday evening so you may have missed it, but the Swiss government has decided against putting in place stricter Covid measures despite recording the highest number of new cases daily since the pandemic began. 

Officials however said “stricter measures (including closings) are ready” if the situation continues to deteriorate.

On Wednesday, Switzerland recorded 30,000 new infections. 

This is the first time the 30,000 mark has been breached. On Tuesday, more than 20,000 were recorded – which itself was the first time Switzerland had crossed the 20,000 mark. 

Health Minister Alain Berset said the crucial metric however was not how many people were contracting the virus, but how many of those infected fall seriously ill. 

“The decisive factor is how many Omikron infected people need intensive care” Berset said.  

READ MORE: Switzerland decides against further Covid measures - for now

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) cutting services due to Covid-related staff absences

Personnel absences due to Omicron are increasing at SBB, resulting in an “increasingly tense” situation, and the company has already exhausted its staff reserves.

As a result, “individual train cancellations cannot be ruled out in the next few days”, according to SBB spokesperson Frédéric Revaz.

Among the recently suspended connections were five Léman Express trains, which connect Geneva with neighbouring areas of France.  Also, fewer Tilo trains in Ticino, connecting the canton with cities in the Italian region of Lombardy, are running, and services between Chiasso and Como, as well as between Como and Varese are cancelled.

If you are taking a train in the near future, you can check any last-minute changes in the schedule on SBB app.

READ MORE: How Switzerland wants to prevent an Omicron shutdown


Omicron wreaks havoc in mountain resorts as well

Also because of quarantined employees, some restaurants and hotels in well-known resorts have to close down in the middle of the ski season.

Several hotels in popular Alpine resorts like Zermatt, Davos, St.Moritz, Pontresina, and Verbier  are shutting down their restaurants temporarily as there is not enough staff to serve meals.

"The shortage of personnel due to coronavirus is a problem”, according to Franz Caluori, president of Graubünden’s restaurant association. In his canton alone, a dozen restaurants have closed so far, he said.

These are the politicians that Swiss people like the best (and least)

In general, the Federal Council is evaluated positively by Switzerland’s population, a new Tamedia survey found, with 64 percent of respondents saying they are satisfied with the performance of the seven cabinet members.

The most highly rated federal councillor is Health Minister Alain Berset, who obtained a score of 4.33 out of 6, even though he has often been the subject of criticism for his handling of the pandemic.

Viola Amherd comes in second, with a score of 4.23, followed by Guy Parmelin (4.14), Karin Keller-Sutter (4.12), Simonetta Sommaruga (4), and Ueli Maurer (3.75).

What about the new president Ignazio Cassis? He is least liked, getting a score of only 3.51.

However, that’s only an informal poll, there is no talk of a referendum on this issue.

The winner: Health Minister Alain Berset. Official government photo

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why does Switzerland’s president only serve one year?


Swiss experts: FFP2 masks protect ‘dozens of times better’ against Covid

Correctly worn, FFP2 masks reduce the risk of infection by 70 times, the Covid-19 Task Force said in its new situation report.

The Task Force cites a laboratory study showing the risk of virus transmission within 20 minutes of contact is 10 percent with a correctly worn medical mask, but only 0.14 percent with an FFP2 mask.

This is especially true in situations with increased exposure to the virus, where correctly worn FFP2 masks were found to offer considerable additional protection.

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