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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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 Thursday
Pricier coffee may no longer be your cup of tea. Photo by Jason Villanueva on Pexels

For the first time in 23 months, it’s back to (almost) normal

If you have just landed in Switzerland from another planet, let us bring you up to date on what is happening in the country from today.

Nearly all Covid-related measures have been scrapped, such as:

  • Covid certificate will no longer be compulsory in any establishment in Switzerland.
  • The mask will also no longer be required in stores, restaurants, offices and other venues. However, it remains compulsory in public transport and health establishments, but only until March 31st, as is the five-day isolation of positive people.
  • The government continues to pay for Covid tests of people with symptoms and all antigen tests
  • There are no longer any entry restrictions onto Swiss territory.

The measures were lifted  because “the epidemiological situation continues to develop positively,” the government said.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Switzerland to scrap Covid certificate and most mask rules

Are masks still obligatory on planes?

Regardless of whether aircraft falls under the category of ‘public transport’ in the same sense as trains and buses, masks continue to be required on board SWISS and Helvetic Airways.

The reason, according to SWISS’ spokesperson Michael Stief is that “the pandemic situation is different around the world. In addition, this measure cannot be lifted unilaterally by a country”.

Helvetic spokesperson Simon Benz added that “for many employees and passengers, the protective and hygiene measures have become routine and contribute to their personal well-being”.

Other other hand, masks are no longer required at Switzerland’s airports.

Switzerland’s reaction to the lifting of measures: Satisfaction and wit

Economic circles, business associations, and politicians have praised the Federal Council’s decision to scrap Covid restrictions. But they are not the only ones.

Scores of “regular” people took to social media as well to share their elation, responding to the government’s announcement with good humour.

These are just two examples of what’s trending in the digital realm in Switzerland:

Bye, Covid certificate! Instagram cesmemespasdroles

Price of coffee in Switzerland may be hard to swallow

After petrol, gas and electricity, it is now the turn of coffee to become more expensive.

Coffee is one of the products that recorded the highest increases. For example, Migros raised the cost of a pack of M-Classic espresso from 4.90 to 5.40 francs, while at Coop the Lavazza Oro brand went from 8.85 to 9.20.

But there is more: besides coffee, the price of pasta also went up, and other common products like mineral water, salty snacks and chocolate are likely to become costlier in the near future as well.

Suppliers blame the increases on inflation, along with higher  costs of wheat and packaging materials.

READ MORE: How to drink coffee like the Swiss

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 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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