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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 Thursday

Fewer train connections in Switzerland, cheaper housing in Zurich and the rest of the news roundup on Thursday.

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

Coming soon: more affordable housing in Zurich

Rents are notoriously high in Switzerland’s largest city, but some relief is on the way.

Municipal authorities have successfully negotiated a barter deal with Welti-Furrer real estate company to offer a number of reasonably priced apartments in the Altstetten neighbourhood.

While the amount the flats are renting for was not published, Blick reports that the negotiations yielded “974 square metres of affordable living space to be rented out during 25 years”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How inflation is increasing housing costs in Switzerland

Swiss Federal Railways want to eliminate some train connections

In its draft timetable for 2023, the company (SBB ) proposes to reduce the number of trains circulating between some Swiss cities.

For instance, SBB is planning to do away with the trains departing from Bern at 7:10 am and 4:10 pm, and the departures from Zurich at 6:49 am.

Two morning connections on the Lucerne-Zurich route are also to be eliminated, along with come off-peak-hour trains in other parts on Switzerland.

However, the draft timetable for 2023 also provides for an expansion for the leisure traffic on weekends, including between Geneva and Chur.

New direct connections are also planned on the Romanshorn-Interlaken route. This means that the tourist destinations in the Bernese Oberland will be better linked to eastern Switzerland and the Zurich area.

Swissmedic to Moderna: It’s too early for second boosters

After Paul Burton, chief medical officer of the vaccine manufacturer Moderna, announced in the Swiss media this week that vaccines will have to be administered “year after year”, Switzerland’s drug regulatory body responded that second boosters are not yet planned in the country.

Swissmedic said that neither Moderna nor other vaccine manufacturers have submitted an authorisation request for a second booster in Switzerland.

In order for the process to get off the ground,the Federal Vaccinations Commission (FVC) will also have to issue a recommendation for the booster dose before it is given to all age groups.

For people over 65 or with chronic illnesses, this will likely be possible in the fall, according to FVC head. Christoph Berger.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?

Switzerland wants to speed up the purchase of American fighter jets

Although the decision to buy 36 US-made F-35A planes remains controversial, the Federal Council decided to accelerate the purchase.

With a number of other countries buying these fighter jets as well, the government is concerned there could be delivery delays. “In order for Switzerland to be able to protect its population from air threats beyond 2030, it must receive its first F-35As as early as 2027”, the Federal Council said in a press release.

Under the terms of the agreement, the offer is valid only until March 31st, 2023, but “the deterioration of the security situation prompts the Federal Council to want to fill the gaps in military capabilities quicker than expected”.
 
No specific date is given but it will be before the March deadline, authorities said.

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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