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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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

This simple pleasure will cost more because of bad weather and poor harvest. Photo by Fallon Michael on Unsplash
This simple pleasure will cost more because of bad weather and poor harvest. Photo by Fallon Michael on Unsplash

Number of people in quarantine is growing rapidly

As at Monday January 10th, 106,795 people were in isolation in Switzerland after being tested positive to Covid, and 38,886 were in preventive quarantine, according to the Federal Office of Public Health.

This means that almost 146,000 individuals are in confinement, a nearly 50-percent increase over last week’s figure, and numbers are expected to soar as Omicron continues to spread through the country.

Many of Switzerland’s critical industries are now suffering serious staff shortages, as an increasing number of health experts and businesses are calling for cutting the preventive quarantine to five days or scrapping it altogether to ensure that essential sectors keep functioning.

READ MORE: How Switzerland wants to prevent an Omicron shutdown

A cross-border train reduces service again

Léman Express, the train commonly used by cross-border workers commuting from France to their jobs in the Geneva area, is once again cutting some of its services due to staff absences.

Lines L2 and L4 are between Coppet (VD) and Annemasse (F) are suspended until January 25th.

The trains will continue to operate between the two stations at the rate of one train every half an hour instead of every 15 minutes, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) announced.

This reduction in the schedule aims in particular to avoid last-minute train cuts due to sick leave, SBB said.

Léman Express train in Geneva. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

READ MORE: Why Swiss trains are less punctual — and what is being done about it

Certain food prices to go up due to poor harvests

In 2021, harvests around the world suffered from disastrous weather events. The fruits were hit by hail, and the vegetables rotted in the waterlogged soil.

In Switzerland, the first price increases are already being felt. Industry association for coffee shops Cafetiersuisse said customers will have to pay between 5 and 10 percent more for a cup of java.

The raw materials needed to make bread, such as flour and wheat, have also become more expensive, according to the Federal Office of Agriculture.

Prices for baked are therefore increasing by 15 percent, mainly due to “devastating harvests”.

READ MORE: How the cost of living will change in Switzerland in 2022

Over 2,000 people sanctioned for lacking Covid test results

Not having a negative test result or properly filled out entry form when arriving in Switzerland can cost you money.

From September 20th, 2021 to January 9th, 2022, 1,070 fines were given out to those without a negative test at Swiss borders, and 1,393 for not having completed the required arrival form, according to Donatella Del Vecchio, spokesperson for French-speaking Switzerland of the Federal Office of Customs and Border Security (OFDF).

OFDF agents are stationed at border crossings and carry out random checks, based on the risks and the situation in the different modes of transport (road, rail and air).  

These statistics don’t include Zurich airport, where the cantonal police are responsibly for carrying out checks.

The amount of fines slapped on rule-breakers was not released.

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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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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]

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