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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.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Conditions for fake prisoners in Zurich jail will be “as close as possible to reality”. Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Digital version of SwissPass for children is now available, but parents are not happy

The paper version of a railway Junior card and the Accompanied Child card allowing children aged six to 16 to travel for free on public transport if accompanied by an adult is now available only in a digital form for new customers.  

For existing clients, the change will be effective from April 1st.

However, many parents are complaining that new digital cards are not practical because they will no longer be available in duplicate, the way paper  tickets were, which allowed both parents to carry a copy.

But the new SwissPass “always stays with the child”, the SBB said.

As some parents have pointed out, many young children don’t have their own wallet, let alone a mobile phone on which the SwissPass could be deposited digitally.

Switzerland paid more in social benefits during pandemic than neighbour countries

Swiss government paid out 206 billion francs in social benefits during the year 2020, an increase of 20.4 billion compared with 2019, according to new data released by the Federal Statistics Office (FSO).

This rise was mainly due to unemployment benefits, including reduced working hours compensation and COVID-19 compensation for loss of earnings.

In international comparison of 20 countries, Switzerland is in the seventh place in terms of the amount of payouts. However, it is above its neighbours Austria, Italy, Germany and France, all of which paid less.

Image: FSO

Over 800 Zurich residents volunteer to try out new jail

As we wrote recently, the new Zurich West prison has put out a call for local volunteers to spend several nights in the 241-place jail to test it out before it accepts actual prisoners.

So far, 832 people who presumably have nothing more pressing to do have volunteered to be imprisoned. Because, why not?

The dress rehearsal, as it were, will take place between March 24th and 27th in conditions that will  be “as close as possible to reality”.

This means participants must hand in their mobile phones and other devices at the entrance. On the other hand, the body search will be carried out only on those who consent. In addition, a keyword will be agreed upon, with which the fake convicts will be able to signal that they have had enough of isolation.(We are guessing it will be “Lass mich hier raus”, which means “Let me out of  here).

The selection process of candidates is about to begin, though “there probably won’t be room for everyone,” in the new prison, said a spokesperson the Department of Execution of Sentences and Reinstatement.

READ MORE: New Zurich jail calls for volunteers to serve time

Novavax applies for Covid vaccine authorisation in Switzerland

US biotech company Novavax has submitted an application for approval of its Nuvaxovid vaccine with the regulatory agency Swissmedic.

“This is the first protein-based vaccine for which an authorisation application has been submitted in Switzerland”, Swissmedic said.

The vaccine was already approved for use in the EU, which means the Swiss agency will be able to take the review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) under consideration in its own authorisation process.

However, the documentation submitted to Swissmedic must be identical to that on which EMA based its approval.

To date, Swissmedic has approved three Covid vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will Switzerland approve Novavax?

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 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]