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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.

Sign of good luck: a number of weddings will take place in Switzerland in February. Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash
Sign of good luck: a number of weddings will take place in Switzerland in February. Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Switzerland to vote on vaccine mandate

The popular initiative “For freedom and physical integrity” has just been validated and will be brought to the ballot box, but the date for the vote has not yet been set.

Launched by the Swiss Freedom Movement (MLS), the initiative calls for each individual to have the right to decide what should or shouldn’t be injected or implanted in their body.

The text also specifies that “the person concerned must not be punished for having refused to give his consent, nor suffer social or professional disadvantages”.

While Switzerland does not currently plan to make Covid vaccinations mandatory – indeed, any compulsory vaccination efforts would be heavily restricted under Swiss law – those behind the referendum want to see any compulsory vaccinations banned outright. 

Current law on epidemics allows cantons to enforce compulsory vaccinations only “for groups at risk, for particularly exposed persons and for persons carrying out certain activities, provided that a serious danger is established”.

The law also grants the federal government the power to impose vaccination in consultation with the cantons. But at the same time, legislation also specifies that no one can be forced to get immunised against their will.

READ MORE: Will Switzerland make the Covid vaccine compulsory?

Health official: too early for Covid relaxations

Health Minister Alain Berset announced on Friday that easing of certain measures may be imminent.

However, Lukas Engelberger, head of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors, sounded the alarm on Sunday against “premature optimism” on the part of the federal government.

He warned that while “it is entirely possible” that the Omicron wave will fade as temperatures rise, the situation may deteriorate again in the fall when cold weather sets in and the vaccine protection wanes. 

Also, new mutations could make the situation worse. “This is why it is dangerous to prematurely declare the end of the pandemic. It’s important not to let go now, because it’s not over yet”, Engelberger added.

READ MORE: ‘Too early to celebrate’: How Omicron is still holding Switzerland in its gri

Colder weather forecast for this week

While temperatures have been mild in many parts of Switzerland over the weekend, the weather is expected to cool down. From today and until Wednesday, significant rainfall is expected north of the Alps and in the pre-Alps.

Up to one metre of snow is also forecast for some areas.

In the mountains, there will be strong gusts, with wind reaching speeds of up to 150 km/h. On low altitudes, there will be gusts of 50 and 80 km/h over the next few days.

The February dates when many weddings in Switzerland will take place

While many couples like to say ‘I do’ on St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th, this year is different.

In many cities, February 2nd and February 22nd are almost fully booked for wedding ceremonies. That’s because 2.2.2022 and 22.2.2022 are the so-called “ palindromic dates”— that is, the same forward and backward — which many people take as a sign of good luck.

A number  of civil registry offices in Zurich, Basel, Bern, Vaud, Geneva, and Valais  report they are full or nearly at full capacity for weddings on those two days, and some even had to hire additional personnel for these dates.

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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