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

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

Who knew? Switzerland’s public transportation is not the most expensive in Europe. Photo by SBB
Who knew? Switzerland’s public transportation is not the most expensive in Europe. Photo by SBB

Number of new Covid infections reaches record-high

On Wednesday, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recorded 38,015 new contaminations — the highest number ever reported in Switzerland in a 24-hour period. 

These are only the infections detected by official tests. However, given that there are also tens of thousands of unsymptomatic and undeclared cases, the more realistic number is between 50,000 and 100,000 infections per day, according to Jürg Utzinger, director of the Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Virginie Masserey, head of FOPH’s infection control unit said “It is possible that we have reached the peak” of the pandemic, which implies that number of cases should begin to drop very soon

READ MORE: Covid in Switzerland: ‘It is possible that we’ve reached the peak’

Surprise: public transport in Switzerland is cheaper than you think

Life is expensive in Switzerland, but a new study conducted in seven European countries shows this reputation does not hold true in the public transport sector.

Swiss fares are within the European average, according to Litra, the information service for public transport in Switzerland, which carried out the study.

Taking into account of the purchasing power of different countries and comparing prices of various types of travel, researchers found that public transport is most expensive in the UK and cheapest in Austria, with Switzerland in the lower middle.

In addition, Swiss public transport is distinguished by high quality “with an exceptionally good price/performance ratio”, the study found.

Switzerland is also first in terms of network density and punctuality — though it has slipped in the latter category lately.

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

Verbier voted “best ski resort in the world”

The Valais resort climbed to the top of the world rankings in the World Ski Award 2021competition, the results of which were announced this week.

Verbier, a popular destination for skiers from the UK, was chosen out of 25 international contenders vying for the title.

World Ski Awards, an organisation that aims to drive up standards within the ski industry, praised  the resort’s “nearly 100 lifts and more than 400 km of ski runs for all levels of expertise”. It added Verbier “is also a freeride paradise, a must for skiers from all over the world”.

Verbier beat second-place holder, Kitzbühel in Austria, as well as France’s Val Thorens, which has won the title since 2016.

Omicron will not harm Switzerland’s economy long-term

Despite the impact that Omicron has had on certain industries, the Swiss economy should return to its pre-pandemic growth level this year, according to experts at Raiffeisen bank.

Covid-related restrictions will have only temporary and steadily decreasing impact on the economy, they say.

Even with an explosion in infections and an unprecedented number of quarantines due to Omicron, Raiffeisen economists estimate losses from worker absences at the equivalent of only 0.3 percent of annual GDP.

 “The impact of the coronavirus was able to be absorbed surprisingly quickly in Switzerland”, the economists pointed out.

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: 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]