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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.

Verifying Covid certificates is becoming more secure. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP
Verifying Covid certificates is becoming more secure. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Cantons react to federal Covid measures

Cantonal authorities had until January 17th to respond to proposals made by the Federal Council last week to tighten certain existing coronavirus rules, including the extension of their validity until March 31st and reduction of the Covid certificate validity from 365 to 270 days, to be in line with the EU rules.

All but four cantons (Graubünden, Lucerne, Obwalden and Solothurn) want the measures to stay in place only until February 28th, at which time a decision could be made on whether to extend them further.

For the Covid certificate, Graubünden officials are the only ones against shortening its validity, while all the other cantons are in favour of this move.

The Federal Council will announce its decision on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Switzerland to cut quarantine period for vaccinated and extend current measures

Should Switzerland emulate Spain in managing the pandemic?

After Spain has proclaimed it wants to stop counting daily infection rates and instead treat Covid the same way as a seasonal flu, with selective surveillance, some Swiss experts said they support this approach.

Valérie D’Acremont, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Lausanne, believes Switzerland should follow the Spanish strategy and adopt the same monitoring system as it already has in place for counting flu cases.

She added that introduction of a simper strategy “often requires more political courage than strengthening it.”

This new approach would signal the transition from a pandemic mode to an endemic one, meaning the disease is commonly found among the population and its evolution has become predictable.

Health Minister Alain Berset has recently mentioned this transition “from a pandemic to an endemic phase with high levels of immunity already reached” in Switzerland.

Verification of Covid certificates is now more secure

It has been common for waiters or other personnel to press the ‘refresh’ button on their customers’ mobile phones to verify their Covid certificate. This action, however, was believed to facilitate data theft

This function is now corrected, with certificate verifications done only through Check, which is a separate application. In the latest update of the certificate app, it says: “The ‘refresh’ button has been removed” and “Verification of Covid certificates must be done through the ‘Covid’ app Certificate Check'”.

The modification has already been automatically installed on most  iPhones in Switzerland.  Users with Android phones, however, still have the “Refresh” button, but their app should be updated soon.

READ MORE: Reader question: Which information do staff see when scanning my Swiss Covid certificate?

A “special coronavirus” timetable for public transport in Geneva

Geneva’s public transport system (TPG) is suffering from a recurring shortage of staff due to quarantines. Faced with this situation, the company has decided to set up a reduced ‘Covid schedule’, which will affect the tram and trolleybus networks throughout the canton.

This measure will start on January 24th and will stay in effect until February 11th.

For example, trams will run every six minutes on line 12 instead of the usual 5-minute intervals. And bus line 3 will offer fewer trips between 7 am and 9 am.

You can see which other lines will be affected here.

TPG said the timetable will be modified only slightly, guaranteeing adherence to  “more than 95 percent” of its regular schedule.

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

From a solid approval of all the issues in Sunday's referendum to higher beverage prices: find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

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

The Swiss say ‘yes’ to three proposals in Sunday’s referendum

Voters in Switzerland have accepted all three of the Federal Council’s proposals, rejecting, at the same time, opponents’ arguments.

The law making organ donation opt out across the country was approved by 60.20 percent, providing more money and staff to controversial EU border protection agency Frontex passed with 71.48 percent, and Lex Netflix – which makes streaming services pay a percentage fee to support Swiss filmmaking – passed with 58.42 percent.

READ MORE: Swiss back ‘Netflix’ law and steer clear of ‘Frontexit’

Read about the reactions in Switzerland to the vote results in our article to be published later today.

Price of beverages is soaring in Switzerland

Another popular product is becoming more expensive: non-alcoholic beverages.

“The price of PET [bottle] is skyrocketing, and with it that of mineral water and soft drinks”, according to a report in 20 Minuten.

“And there is a risk of further price increases.”

For instance, prices per litre of mineral water are now 5 to 10 cents higher, depending on the retailer. 

Of the four major retailers that the newspaper surveyed — Migros, Coop, Aldi and Lidl — only Coop has not yet increased the price of beverages, although its spokesperson conceded the company “cannot currently rule out price adjustments,” due to higher cost of raw materials, the shortage of packaging material, and the increased transport and energy costs.

Beverages have joined a growing list of other everyday products whose prices have increased due to inflation and war in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Seven products that are becoming more expensive in Switzerland

Migros gets tough on “unscrupulous” customers

Due to a growing number of shoplifters, some self-service Migros stores in Zurich are installing special barriers allowing only those who pay for their purchases to exit the store.

Customers who pay at self-checkout terminals must now scan the QR code of their receipt to open a barrier and leave with their purchases.

This is a rather drastic measure, “as Migros and Coop have so far relied on individual responsibility and random checks”, according to Tagblatt newspaper.

Russians critical of the Putin regime want to remain in Switzerland

A number of Russian women in Switzerland, who have criticised the war on social media and are therefore afraid of repercussions from the Kremlin, are asking the Federal Council to grant them asylum.

“I can understand that these women are concerned,” said Ulrich Schmid, Professor of Russian Culture and Society at the University of St. Gallen. “It is possible that the Russian secret service reports on people who are critical of the war”.

Should Russian deserters and opponents of the war get asylum in Switzerland? MPs’ views diverge.

For a Green MP Balthasar Glättli, Switzerland should grant these war objectors humanitarian visas.

However, according to Thomas Aeschi from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), “Switzerland should treat all asylum seekers equally”, pointing out there are many people in other countries “who are also threatened”.

According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Russians who remain in Switzerland can apply to their canton of residence to extend their existing residence permit. “It will be checked whether they meet the legal requirements for this”, SEM said.

READ MORE: Reader question: Do Russians now have to leave Switzerland?

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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