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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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.

Testing requirements for entry into Switzerland are now relaxed. Photo: SPENCER PLATT / AFP
Testing requirements for entry into Switzerland are now relaxed. Photo: SPENCER PLATT / AFP

No more entry tests: travel to Switzerland gets easier

Since Saturday, travellers who are fully vaccinated against Covid and those who have recovered from the illness no longer need to show test results to enter Switzerland from abroad.

Only people who are neither vaccinated nor cured must still present a negative test on arrival. The PCR test must be done within the last 72 hours and the rapid antigen test within the last 24 hours.

However, the former requirement of a second test after four to seven days after arrival has been dropped  previously due to limited testing capabilities in Switzerland. The obligation to confirm a positive result by taking a repeat PCR test has also been eliminated.

READ MORE: Switzerland drops PCR tests for confirming positive rapid antigen tests

There are almost no Omicron patients in intensive care units

A survey conducted by Blick newspaper among hospitals found that virtually all patients admitted to Swiss healthcare facilities have contracted the Delta variant which, though less prevalent than Omicron, is still spreading in Switzerland among the unvaccinated.

At Geneva’s University Hospitals (HUG), only two out of 19 Covid patients have Omicron. And the chief physician of the University Hospital of Zurich said that “there are hardly any traces of Omicron in the intensive care unit”. In Zurich’s two other hospitals, Tremli and Stadspital Waid, none of the seven Covid cases has Omicron.

As for Bern’s Inselspital, “a significant proportion of intensive care patients have been affected by the Delta variant”, spokesperson told Blick.

This provides evidence to support the health officials’ contention that Omicron is not as virulent as Delta.

READ MORE: Reasonably optimistic’: Are Switzerland’s Covid hotspots cooling down at last?

Health officials: Covid certificate and other measures could end soon

In an interview with Swiss media on Sunday, Health Minister Alain Berset said that the need for the Covid certificate “seems to be approaching its end”.

While he didn’t specify when the requirement would be abolished, other health experts are also seeing a significant easing of current measures.

After the Omicron wave calms down, generalised measures such as certificates and masks will no longer be necessary from the summer “if we continue to get vaccinated and get booster shots as well”, according to epidemiologist Marcel Tanner.

While the virus will not be eradicated completely and there will always be coronavirus outbreaks, “it will be possible to stem them with specific and targeted measures. All epidemics have shown this so far”, he added.

READ MORE: Should Switzerland abolish the Covid certificate?

Study: most self-tests are not reliable

Covid home tests that are sold in pharmacies in Switzerland only work reliably with very high viral loads, a new study found.

According to this information, many tests available in Switzerland and authorised by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) don’t show accurate results when the viral load goes from “low” to “high”. Only a “very high” load could be detected.

Home testing kits like this one are rarely reliable, study found. Photo: Ben STANSALL / AFP

This means that tests conducted at the beginning of an infection, or in case of asymptomatic infection, would likely show a negative result.

This study adds evidence to another recent research which suggested that even antigen tests conducted by professionals sometimes fail to detect Omicron infections.

READ MORE: Switzerland: Do antigen tests detect Omicron?

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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