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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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

Fixed-rate mortgage rates in Switzerland have risen sharply. Photo by Azzedine Rouichi on Unsplash
Fixed-rate mortgage rates in Switzerland have risen sharply. Photo by Azzedine Rouichi on Unsplash

A sign of pandemic’s end: reproduction rate falls below 1

One of the metrics that health experts use to determine whether the epidemiological situation is improving or deteriorating is the reproduction (“R”) rate.

It indicates how quickly the virus spreads through the population: if it exceeds 1, it means the number of cases keeps increasing. But if it falls below 1, it’s a sign the virus is not transmitted as fast.

Right now, and for the first time in several weeks, Switzerland ‘s R-rate dropped to 0,92. As a comparison, at the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020, the rate was at its highest — 4.5, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why does Switzerland want to end Covid restrictions?
 

Marriage ceremonies could get more expensive

If you are planning to wed, be aware that saying ‘I do’ might soon cost more money.

A wedding at the civil registry office – the only marriage considered to be legal in Switzerland —  currently costs around 75 francs. This fee is always the same, regardless of whether the registry office is hosting a ceremony or whether the couple is just signing the marriage certificate.

In many cases, however, this amount doesn’t cover incurred costs, especially when civil registry officer has to travel outside to perform a ceremony,  according to Roland Peterhans,  president of the Association for Civil Status.

His suggestion: anything other than a simple, no-fuss ceremony “should cost around 200 francs”.

Even if marriages would become  more expensive, Sara Stalder, managing director of the Consumer Protection Foundation, is in favour of the increase.

 “Not everyone getting married wants the same kind of ceremony. People can decide for themselves whether they want a quick, inexpensive wedding or a more costly one”, she said.

READ MORE:  Does marriage make financial sense in Switzerland?
 

And on the economic front…

Who are Switzerland’s foreign job seekers?

The latest unemployment figures released by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) include a breakdown of  job seekers by nationality.

Of the 122, 268 people looking for work in January 2022, the number of Swiss and foreign nationals was roughly the same: the former represented 60,541 of the total, while the latter added up to 61,727 people.

Most of the non-Swiss job seekers came from the European Union, as this group represents the highest proportion of Switzerland’s foreign labour force.

Most specifically, Portuguese nationals formed the largest group (8,618 people), followed by Italians (8,446).

When taking into account Europeans outside the EU, most of 12, 998 job seekers were from Kosovo (4,394) and Macedonia (2,198).

Swiss banks are raising mortgage interest rates sharply

If you would like to purchase a property in the near future, you might want to think twice: Swiss banks are significantly increasing the interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages.

For instance, according to Tages-Anzeiger, interest rates for a five-year mortgage at the Luzerner Kantonalbank rose by 0.19 percent to 1.4 percent; the seven-year fixed-rate mortgage at the same bank now costs 1.51 instead of 1.4 percent.

The trend is the same at other banks as well: Raiffeisenbank charges 1.84 percent for a fixed-rate,10-year mortage; Credit Suisse 1.77 percent, and Zürcher Kantonalbank 1.7 percent.

As a comparison, at the beginning of 2021, a 10-year mortgage cost 1.1 percent. 

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 Friday

From online scams to avoid to hot weather forecast: find out what's going on on Friday in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

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

Campaign launched against online shopping scams

Swiss police are warning the public against online shopping scams, including  the latest one, involving the activation of an online payment system that allows scammers to make several online purchases at the expense of the victim.

The best way to protect yourself and not fall prey to scammers, police say is to:

  • Always verify the sender and amount when receiving a payment request;
  • Never transmit a confirmation code to third parties;
  • Always check account statements;
  • Immediately report any suspicious transactions;
  • Report any such crime to the police.

All the advice and recommendations can be found on this website.

READ MORE:  How to avoid the most common online scams in Switzerland

Free travel for Ukrainian refugees to end

Since March 21st, refugees from Ukraine have traveled free of charge in on public transportation in Switzerland, a service which was provided by the federal government.

This perk, however, will end from June 1st.

“This free travel saved us from considerable administrative work, as these people would have had to be issued transport cards for each stage of their registration procedure”, according to Anne Césard, spokesperson for the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

A number of MPs are challenging this decision, however.

 “If these people can no longer travel for free, this will constitute an additional obstacle to their chances of integration, knowing that the financial aid granted to them is very low”, said Pierre-Yves Maillard.

“As long as the majority of these people cannot meet their needs sufficiently, we must continue to help them by extending this free service, even if it is in the form of a subsidy”, said another deputy , Benjamin Roduit.

United States impressed by Swiss sanctions

The US government has praised what Switzerland has done so far in the search for Russian funds to block, according to Scott Miller, the American ambassador to Switzerland.

Bern has made “immense progress” in freezing about  6.3 billion francs, belonging primarily to Russian oligarchs with ties to president Putin.

“This is a package of sanctions of a weight and breadth that, to be honest, have never been seen in the world”, he added.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why Switzerland is a magnet for Russian money
 

Get ready to be very hot today

If Swiss meteorologists got it right, temperatures will reach the high of 32 degrees today.

“The current heat wave is relatively extreme for a month of May”, said meteorologist Joshua Gehring from official weather service MeteoSwiss.

Screenshot MeteoSwiss

The reason: “What we are currently experiencing, that is to say a relatively early heat wave, is a direct consequence of climate change”, Gehring noted.

READ MORE: Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

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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