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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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

Switzerland has cleaned up its act in terms of money laundering. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
Switzerland has cleaned up its act in terms of money laundering. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

New Omicron sub-variant ‘definitely present in Switzerland’

A sub-variant of Omicron, the BA.2 (the original variant being the BA.1) is spreading at high speed through several countries.

“We have not yet identified it, because we don’t sequence a lot in Switzerland, but the BA.2 clearly has a propensity to develop”, according to Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva.

To date, even if the new strain appears to be more contagious than BA.1, “there is no indication that it has a different pathological profile”, Flahault said. “They are both Omicron”.

If it turns out to be less dangerous than all the previous ones, “we will obviously be happy about it, but I don’t think we can be happy about the invasion of a new variant”, he added.

READ MORE: Covid: One in ten Swiss infected in past week

Quality of life in nine Swiss cities rated

Various aspects of living in Switzerland’s nine largest cities and their agglomerations have been updated in City Statistics data.

Conducted by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the project examined categories including housing, health, personal safety, public transport, environmental quality and other factors to rate the quality of life in Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Lugano, St. Gallen, Winterthur and Zurich.

Read a more detailed article in The Local about the report’s findings.

READ MORE: Why have Swiss cities become ‘more liveable’ during the pandemic?

Switzerland remains among the world’s top 10 least corrupted countries

That’s the good news. The not-so-good part is that in terms of corruption, Switzerland slipped in international ratings from third place in 2020 to seventh in 2021, a new ranking by Transparency International indicates.

Overall, however, Switzerland is one of the nations “that actively implements the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention against Corruption”, the study found.

Among the areas where the country could improve, according to Martin Hilti, director of Transparency Switzerland, are the fight against money laundering, legal provisions against lobbying, and protection of whistleblowers.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is Switzerland actually a tax haven?

Bern to promote the ‘diversity of the population’ in municipal administration

Almost every fourth person living in the capital city is a foreigner; according to figures from the Bern Statistics Office.

The municipal council has now presented a “priority plan for migration and racism”. One of the 25 goals to be implemented by 2025 is to hire more people with a migration background in the urban workforce.

“The administration should act as a role model and reflect the population of the city. That is not the case at the moment”, said municipal spokesperson Franziska Teuscher.

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

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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