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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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
Up, up and away: Air travel is picking up in Switzerland. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

SWISS suspends flights to Ukraine

Faced with the potentially volatile situation in Ukraine, Switzerland’s national airline temporarily suspends its flights to Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, starting today.

All SWISS flights to and from Ukraine will be canceled from Monday February 21st until, and including, February 28th, 2022, an airline spokesperson told the Keystone news agency.

The flights will resume after this date if the political situation allows it.

“The safety of passengers and crew members is the absolute priority at all times,” the spokesperson said.

New phenomenon: coronaskeptics  in Switzerland refuse to pay their taxes

The cantonal tax offices are faced with an ever-growing number of unvaccinated people who refuse to pay their 2021 taxes, arguing they have been excluded from public life for not having a Covid certificate.

However, being a coronaskeptic (or any other skeptic, for that matter) is not a justifiable reason for evading taxes, authorities say.

If their tax declaration will not be received in due time (usually by March 31), they receive two reminders, followed by fines. The amounts differ from one canton to another, but are usually several hundred francs for the first offence.

Few third-generation foreigners take advantage of facilitated naturalisation

Since February 15th, 2018, foreigners born in Switzerland and whose grandparents already lived here, can become naturalised more easily.

However, according to a new report by the Federal Commission for Migration, out of some 25,000 people in this category, only 1,847 received their Swiss passports at the end of 2020.

That’s because far from being easier, access to Swiss nationality for this population group is unreasonably bureaucratic, the report notes, as in many cases proof required for this process to be successful is difficult to obtain.

READ MORE: How to apply for Swiss citizenship: An essential guide

A new post-Covid phenomenon: “Revenge travel”

Foreign holiday bookings have exploded in Switzerland since the lifting of health restrictions last week.

For the past 10 days, tourism professionals have been facing exceptional demand and are expecting a much better year 2022 than those that preceded the pandemic.

This craze already has a name: “revenge travel” .

Airlines in Switzerland are also seeing an increase in bookings — for instance, on Easyjet, ticket sales went up by more than 35 percent last week.

SWISS, for its part, is planning to expand its services this summer by 80 percent, compared to the pre-pandemic levels.

Netflix is significantly more expensive in Switzerland

In yet another example of how much pricier Switzerland is, a standard subscription to the streaming service here costs “significantly more” than in many other countries.

A comparison of annual Netflix subscription rates by Blick, reveals that while this service costs 226.80 francs per year in Switzerland, it is available for 163.20 francs in Germany, Italy and France; 130.80 in Norway; and 176.40 francs in the United States.

“In Switzerland, Netflix therefore costs around 70 percent more than in Norway, and compared to our German-speaking neighbors we still pay around 40 percent more”,  Blick concluded.

And as though this isn’t bad enough, here’s what’s next…

READ MORE: Replaying television to cost more in 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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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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