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

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

Until the end of January, there will be no training in the barracks for new army recruits. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Until the end of January, there will be no training in the barracks for new army recruits. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Swiss health experts: Fourth vaccine dose ‘useless’ right now

Even though Israel began administering a fourth Covid shot to its population, Swiss experts believe that at this point additional jabs are not needed in Switzerland.

According to vaccine specialist Alessandro Diana, we must have more studies “to better understand the effect of the third dose. At the moment, nothing indicates that a fourth injection of the same product would be really useful”.

READ MORE: New stats show effectiveness of Switzerland’s Covid booster campaign

Pharmaceutical companies have announced they are working on a reformulated vaccine to fight Omicron, but experts say it is better to wait and see whether this variant continues to infect, as more people build immunity to it.

“The goal is not to boost our antibodies against a virus that no longer exists”, said Giuseppe Pantaleo, director of the Immunology and Allergy Department at the Vaud University Hospital (CHUV).

Epidemiologist calls for end of quarantine obligation

While various experts have spoken in favour of reducing the length of quarantines, epidemiologist Marcel Salathé is calling for suspending them altogether.

Instead, 10 rapid tests should be sent to anyone who has been in contact with an infected person and these people would have to test themselves daily. In the result is negative, they can go to work, he said in an interview with SonntagsZeitung.

Even though Salathé conceded there would be some “residual risk” to this method, “given great losses to the economy if half of Switzerland had to stay at home due to suspected Covid-19”, this method is a sound solution, he added.

READ MORE: Most Swiss cantons shorten their quarantine requirements

You’re in the army now — or are you?

As was the case in 2021,  over 11,000 new recruits set to begin their military service on January 17th are told to do their training at home. They will not be required to physically report for duty until January 31st.

In addition, all soldiers will be required to have a Covid test before starting their service and will only be allowed to do so if the result is negative. Those tested positive will have to continue will with distance learning, as long as their health permits it.

Also, entry to recruit school will be staggered. “This solution allows people who test positive to be better supervised and the necessary isolation and quarantine measures to be applied,” the military said.

Let’s hope the army will not be called up to attack Liechtenstein in the meantime.

READ MORE: Swiss army bans WhatsApp due to privacy concerns

Switzerland’s most popular car is…

Compared to 2020, “the demand for new passenger cars has increased significantly” in 2021, according to the Association of Automobile Importers (Auto-Suisse).

And the most purchased new car, for the first time ever, was Tesla’s Model 3; 5,074 of these vehicles were sold in the country last year, Auto-Suisse said.

Brand founder Elon Musk is not indifferent to the record-breaking sales. “Yay Switzerland”, he responded to Auto-Suisse’s tweet announcing Tesla’s dominance on the Swiss market.

Federal Council: hiding their heads in the sand

As Covid cases continued to break all-time records last week, members of  the Federal Council have maintained their usual winter break, announcing they would not resume their regular activities until January 12th.

Although some in Switzerland have criticised the cabinet for taking so much time off during a health crisis, others treated it with humour by photoshopping the official government photo to show federal councillors hiding their heads in the sand.

This is the official photo…

Photo: Swiss government

…and the ‘tweaked’ one

Photo: Twitter

READ MORE: A foreigner’s guide to understanding Swiss politics in five minutes

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]

Member comments

  1. Unless the federal council are not planning to lift any of the at the moment useless restrictions (like PCR test for entry), it is better that they stay on vacation.

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For members


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

Weather is finally becoming more 'reasonable', salaries are set to slightly increase in 2023, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Monday.

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

It is finally raining in Switzerland, but is this enough?

After weeks of hot and dry weather, rain fell on many parts of Switzerland yesterday. This wet trend is expected to continue today, strengthening on Wednesday or Thursday, according to Nicolas Borgognon, a meteorologist at MeteoNews.

However, while it provides some relief for agriculture and nature in general, it is not certain whether the amount of rain will be sufficient to counteract the effects of drought that has impacted much of Switzerland.

“For that, it would take regular rain of low to moderate intensity, lasting at least 48 hours”, Borgognon said. “And at the moment, this is not yet envisaged”.

Gap between high and low salaries is growing

A new study into income disparity carried out by Unia labour union shows that in 2021, executives of 43 largest Swiss companies — including such giants as Roche, UBS, and Nestlé — earned an average of 141 times more than their lowest-paid employees.

While salaries of the lowest paid employees grew by only 0.5 percent between 2016 and 2020 (the last year for which official data is available), for the higher-ups the increase was 4 percent.

The union is callling for general raises, with the money taken away from shareholders and given to the employees instead.

“In this period marked by inflation and a possible spike in health insurance premiums, increases are becoming urgent”, Unia added.

But here’s also good news on the salary front…

Next year, wages are expected to increase by 2.2 percent on average

A survey by the KOF Economic Research Center of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich forecasts the average salary increase of 2.2 percent in 2023 — the largest one in 22 years.

The biggest increases — about 4.4 percent — will be in the restaurant and hotel industry, the sector that is among the most impacted by staff shortages.  

According to Valentin Vogt, president of the Swiss Employers’ Association, many companies have drawn on their reserves during the Covid pandemic, and do not have the financial capacity for higher increases.

READ: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?

Swiss schools don’t have enough teachers

As classes resume this week in many parts of Switzerland, a number of schools in various cantons are worried about scarcity of teachers.

According to education officials, this shortage is “more serious than ever”, driven mainly by  many teachers “feeling overwhelmed” by all the demands and pressure, in addition to actual teaching, including too many administrative tasks.

Added to this is the effort required to integrate children from Ukraine into local schools, which further complicates the already tense situation.

READ MORE : Why teachers in Swiss schools are worried about falling education standards

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]