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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.

A drone shot shows the Roman arena excavation site in Kaiseraugst. Photo: Kantonsarchäologie Aargau; Kanton Aargau
A drone shot shows the Roman arena excavation site in Kaiseraugst. Photo: Kantonsarchäologie Aargau; Kanton Aargau

Switzerland to revise social assistance and integration requirements for non-Europeans

Third-country nationals are significantly more at risk of becoming dependent on social assistance than the Swiss or citizens of EU or EFTA states, the government said.

To counter this trend, the Federal Council is planning to introduce a series of measures to increase employment in this target group and to contain the increase in social assistance spending by cantons and municipalities.

At the same time, federal authorities also want to include an additional integration criterion in the Federal Law on Foreigners, focusing not only on the primary job / residence seeker, but his entire family as well.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How applying for social benefits could see your Swiss work permit cancelled

Tenants could see their rents increase

Cantons are considering introducing an obligation to install solar panels when renovating roofs or facades of buildings. As a result, apartments and houses could become more expensive to rent.

The federal government already ruled that by year 2050, most of Switzerland’s energy should be solar, which means installations capable of producing 1,000 megawatts of power should be put into place by the deadline. To speed up the process, Swissolar, the  association of solar energy professionals, is seeking a mandate to oblige owners to install solar panels on all roof and facade surfaces during renovations.

Solar panels could become mandatory during building renovations. Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.

Covid certificate opponents in Switzerland come from political left and right

Opponents of the certificate obligation can be found on both sides of the political spectrum, ranging from supporters of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) to environmentalists, according to a new study by the Swiss Centre of Competence in Social Sciences (FORS).

FORS researchers also made the link between sympathisers of the European Union and defenders of the Covid certificate.

“We know that questions of European policy and immigration have a very strong impact on Swiss politics and on voting preferences”, study-co-author Line Rennwald said in an interview  with RTS public broadcaster.

“We see that there is a fairly clear correlation between the support for further European integration of Switzerland and support for the Covid certificate”.

READ MORE: Should Switzerland abolish the Covid certificate?

Ruins of a Roman-era amphitheater unearthed in Switzerland

Archaeologists working in Kaiseraugst, canton Aargau, have uncovered the remains of what is believed to be the last gladiator arena built before the Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD.

The oval-shaped amphitheater was constructed of stone blocks and mortar in an abandoned quarry that had been in use until late antiquity, according to Jakob Baerlocher, head of excavations at the site.

Spectators gathered there to watch and cheer on bloody gladiator flights and animal hunts.    

Kaiseraugust, named after the ancient Roman city of Augusta Raurica, is the most important Roman excavation site in 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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For members


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

Decision on booster vaccines, and more Covid cases: this and other news from Switzerland on Wednesday

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

Second boosters: not before fall

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) announced on Tuesday that second booster shots for general population will be available in the fall, “when the risk for individuals and the burden on the healthcare system will be greatest”.

 Right now, those with a weakened immune system and people over the age of 80 are the only ones eligible for free vaccines.

However, people who are travelling to countries where proof of up-to-date immunisation is required but whose Covid certificates are no longer valid, can receive the fourth dose but upon request have to pay for the shot.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will Switzerland authorise second Covid booster shots?

Covid cases continue to climb

While health authorities are stalling with making second boosters available to general public, the number of coronavirus cases announced by FOPH on Tuesday in its weekly report has increased by 40 percent in a span of seven days.

Some 46,025 new contaminations were detected in the week between June 28th and July 5th, up from 33,108 cases the week before, and 24,704 three weeks ago.

The steadily growing rate of infections is in line with epidemiologists’ warnings about the rapid spread of the highly contagious Omicron sub-variants.

READ MORE : ‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

Shopping tourism: Fewer Swiss buy in Germany

Even though the euro is at near parity with the franc, and purchasing goods abroad is now cheaper, up to 30 percent fewer Swiss shop in Germany now than prior to Covid pandemic.

The reasons for this trend reversal are unclear, but German shopkeepers are unhappy.

“This is causing headaches for German merchants in the border area. The decline in the number of Swiss shoppers is dramatic”, according to Claudius Marx, general manager of the Hochrhein-Bodensee Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The Swiss still have significantly higher purchasing power than our northern neighbours. They could also combine the shopping trip with filling up the car. In Germany, petrol and diesel are cheaper than in Switzerland”, he added.

READ MORE: Reader question: Can I leave Switzerland to fill up my car in Germany?

Switzerland’s population is nearing 9 million

At the start of 2022, 8,736,500 people lived in Switzerland. Six months later, at the beginning of July, 100,000 more were registered, government data shows.   

This growth spurt is due mainly to foreigners: Out of 100,00 new arrivals, 60,000 are people who have fled Ukraine, in addition to 32,700 immigrants from other countries and 6,800 asylum seekers.

In all, 200,000 more people, mostly foreigners, could be living living in Switzerland in the near future, swelling the number of residents to nearly 9 million.

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]