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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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

Rents for mountain housing in Switzerland are going up. Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash
Rents for mountain housing in Switzerland are going up. Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash

Calls for a five-day quarantine continue

As more than 100,000 people in Switzerland are in either isolation or preventive quarantine, there are more calls to shorten the duration of their in-home confinement.

Economiesuisse, the umbrella organisation for businesses, is urging the government to reduce the isolation of sick people who have no symptoms by half, namely from 10 to five days.

Other business groups are also arguing that Switzerland’s economy can’t function if half of the workforce is absent.

Health experts, however, urge caution. Epidemiologist Olivia Keizer from the University of Geneva, is skeptical due to the lack of scientific data on the matter. “I have not seen any study so far that would argue in favor of a reduction to five days”, she said.

Cantons have already cut the duration of quarantines for contact cases to seven days, though infected people must remain in isolation for the full 10 days.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Most Swiss cantons shorten their quarantine requirements

Antigen tests may not detect Omicron virus

Health authorities are concerned that antigen tests are not sensitive enough to detect Omicron, leading to ‘false negative’ results. It is not uncommon for PCR screening to contradict the results of rapid tests.

Patrick Mathys, head of the crisis management section at the Federal Office of Public Health confirmed that rapid antigenic tests “seem to have sensitivity problems” in recognising Omicron.

“This needs to be looked at closely internationally. We can then decide how to use these tests in the future”, he said.

Rents surge in mountain regions

Alpine areas recorded a significant increase in rents last year, above the Swiss average, according to the rent index published by the real estate portal Homegate.ch and Zurich Cantonal Bank.

While at the national level rents increased by 1 percent, several mountain cantons recorded higher prices. In Graubünden, rents jumped by 4.7 percent, in Uri by 2.7 percent, and in Nidwalden by 2.5 percent.

The increase in the German-speaking mountain cantons has been driven by the health situation. “Foreign destinations have lost their appeal over the past two years due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, and teleworking obligation has also contributed to this trend, the study found.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: The hidden costs of renting in Switzerland

Swiss Uber drivers deemed to be employees

The debate over whether Uber drivers are self-employed has been ongoing in various countries, including Switerland.

Now the social insurance court in Zurich has ruled that they are employees of Uber, meaning the multinational company must pay social contributions for them, just as all employers in Switzerland do for their workers.

Uber, which has claimed that drivers are self-employed contractors and therefore not entitled to social contributions or vacation compensation, has announced that it will appeal the ruling.

This verdict affects about 3,200 Uber drivers in nine Swiss cities.

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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For members

TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

Health insurance policyholders may receive compensation, fewer Covid infections, and other news from Switzerland this Wednesday.

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

CSS ordered to pay policyholders 129 million francs

Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has revealed that one of the country’s largest insurance companies, CSS, has been passing part of its distribution and management costs on to holders of its supplementary health insurance.

Between 2013 and 2019, CSS “was guilty of serious violations”, FINMA said in a press release, ordering the carrier to refund up to 129 million francs to customers who took out a supplementary health policy during this timeframe.

For its part, CSS is “astonished by the extent of [FINMA’s] criticism”, adding that there is no clear guidance in the Swiss law regarding the allocation of insurance companies’ administrative costs.

If you have a supplemental health policy from CSS, you will be informed in due time if you are entitled to a refund.

Covid infections still on downward trend

The number of reported coronavirus cases continues to decline in Switzerland, according to new weekly data published by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Contaminations dropped in a span of one week from 21,817 recorded on July 9th to 18, 204 detected on July 16th — a decrease of 16.6 percent.

During the same period, Covid-related hospitalisations fell by 38.8 percent, FOPH figures show.

As a comparison, at the height of this summer’s outbreak in mid-July, nearly 56,000 new infections had been reported in Switzerland.

Left and right have common vision of energy policy

It is not often that business groups and left-leaning parties see eye to eye on political matters, but this is what’s happening in Switzerland right now.

In what the Swiss media calls “an unnatural alliance”, the Social Democratic Party and EconomieSuisse, which represents business interests, are asking the Federal Council  to compensate companies  for financial losses in the event gas or electricity shortage reduces their productivity.

If the government can’t ensure sufficient energy supply to enable businesses to function normally, it must pay companies to put their employees on partial unemployment, as many did during the Covid pandemic, EconomieSuisse said.

For the socialists too, the government must compensate all companies that would see their commercial activities drop by at least 15 percent.

The Federal Council returns to work

After several weeks of absence for summer holidays, the seven members of the Federal Council will be back at work today.

Among topics on its agenda will be decisions regarding second Covid boosters, such as the date when the shots will be available to the general population.

Officials have previously indicated that the announcement about the availability of the fourth dose will be made during the second half of August, with the rollout for general public expected in the fall.

READ MORE: Covid boosters not available in Switzerland until autumn
 

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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