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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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 Wednesday
No private vehicles, only municipal buses, are permitted in Zermatt. Photo by Gabriel Garcia Marengo on Unsplash

Announcement about the lifting of coronavirus measures is imminent

The Federal Council will announce this afternoon which Covid measures will be scrapped from tomorrow or in the near future.

Likely to fall is the Covid certificate requirement to enter bars, restaurants, and other indoor venues. There would also be no further restrictions on private meetings, while large events would no longer have to be authorised. 

However, mask requirements on public transport in other tight spaces will probably remain in place for the time being.

READ MORE: Will Switzerland relax all Covid measures on Wednesday?

40 percent of Switzerland’s population infected with Omicron in four weeks

A very large majority of Swiss residents will have “some immunity” against Covid at the end of this winter, whether through vaccination or contamination with the virus, according to the Covid-19 Task Force.

Nearly 900,000 people tested positive in just four weeks during the winter of 2021-2022; if unreported cases are also taken into account,  this figure is likely three or four times higher, the task force reported.

In the end, up to 3.6 million people may have been infected with the coronavirus, most of them with the Omicron variant.

Being a homeowner in Switzerland got even more expensive

Yet another study confirms what we already knew: that properties in Switzerland became even costlier than before.

In 2021, prices rose by an average of 6 percent for single-family houses and 5.5 percent for apartments, according to new data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) — an economic indicator that measures the development of market prices for residential properties.

This map shows where in Switzerland properties are most expensive and by how much prices increased in the last three months of 2021.

Image: FSO

And if climbing prices are not enough of a deterrent for future homeowners, mortgage rates at each of Switzerland’s major banks are also on the rise .

READ MORE: Mortgage rates set to rise in Switzerland

Which Swiss municipalities have more vehicles than inhabitants?

The Swiss like to travel by public transportation, but it appears that residents of some towns are really attached to their automobiles.

So much so, that in some municipalities there are more vehicles than people. Canton-wise, Valais has most car-happy towns: Dorénaz with 128 vehicles per 100 inhabitants, followed by Agettes (123 / 100) and Montana (103).

On the other hand, Valais also has two municipalities with fewest per-capita vehicles. They are the car-free resorts of Zermatt (54.2 / 100) and Saas-Fee (59.7).

The national average is 54.1 cars per 100 inhabitants, but while the three Valais towns mentioned above break the record for the number of cars per inhabitant, its overall average (65.1) is lower than Zug’s (70.9) and Schwyz’s (65.3

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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