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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.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Church bells will ring throughout Switzerland Wednesday morning. Photo by Pixabay

Switzerland has space for 5,000 Ukrainian refugees

There are currently 5,000 free places in the federal asylum centres, and 847 refugees have already been placed there.

In addition, more than 11,000 private individuals have volunteered to host refugees in their homes.

The exact number of Ukrainians expected to come to Switzerland will be known in a few days, but the government has already indicated they will be eligible to obtain a right of residence without having to go through an ordinary asylum procedure.

“The Swiss Refugee Aid Organisation will coordinate these offers and place Ukrainians with private hosts or in cantonal structures, in close cooperation with the cantons”, State Secretartiat for Migration (SEM) said in a press release.

Lidl bans plastic Nerf guns from sale

After a number of Switzerland’s retailers have announced a boycott of Russian goods, Lidl has decided to withdraw plastic Nerf guns from its shelves in Switzerland.

The supermarket chain doesn’t want to be associated with war or violence in any way. This is why it is suspending the sale of two sets of air guns that shoot foam darts from the toy brand Nerf, which is owned by the American toy manufacturer Hasbro.

A Lidl spokesperson explained that this decision had been taken “out of respect and consideration” for Ukrainian people.

READ MORE: Swiss supermarkets begin boycott of Russian goods

SWISS to be the world’s first airline to use solar fuel 

The national airline has concluded an agreement with the Synhelion company, a spinoff of the Polytechnic Institute of Zurich (ETH) to use its solar aviation fuel starting in 2023.

This will make SWISS the first airline in the world to use carbon-neutral kerosene, produced from concentrated sunlight.

“With this collaboration, SWISS and Synhelion are playing a pioneering role in the production and the adoption of sustainable aviation fuels.”, the airline said in a press release.

SWISS will be the first to fly on solar fuel. Photo by Mathew Browne on Unsplash

Heads-up: listen to the bells tomorrow morning

Church bells will ring throughout Switzerland on Wednesday morning at 10 am to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and support the victims of the conflict.

This action is launched jointly by three of Switzerland’s main churches: the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, the Evangelical Reformed Church, and the Christian Catholic Church.

The three religious groups issued a statement condemning “the war of aggression which is being waged by Russia against Ukraine and which threatens peace in Europe”. Together, they call on “the Russian president to immediately cease acts of war and prevent further suffering. We stand in solidarity with everyone in Ukraine, their fear and concern.”

Switzerland’s unemployment rate falls further

Good news on employment front: the jobless rate in Switzerland remained at a low level in February, dropping by 0.1 percentage point to 2.5 percent.

Over one year, the number of registered unemployed has shrunk by almost 30 percent, according to a new report by the State Secretariat for the Economy (SECO).

Both people under 25 and those aged 50 and over benefited from the upward trend.

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

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 Thursday

Fewer train connections in Switzerland, cheaper housing in Zurich and the rest of the news roundup on Thursday.

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

Coming soon: more affordable housing in Zurich

Rents are notoriously high in Switzerland’s largest city, but some relief is on the way.

Municipal authorities have successfully negotiated a barter deal with Welti-Furrer real estate company to offer a number of reasonably priced apartments in the Altstetten neighbourhood.

While the amount the flats are renting for was not published, Blick reports that the negotiations yielded “974 square metres of affordable living space to be rented out during 25 years”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How inflation is increasing housing costs in Switzerland

Swiss Federal Railways want to eliminate some train connections

In its draft timetable for 2023, the company (SBB ) proposes to reduce the number of trains circulating between some Swiss cities.

For instance, SBB is planning to do away with the trains departing from Bern at 7:10 am and 4:10 pm, and the departures from Zurich at 6:49 am.

Two morning connections on the Lucerne-Zurich route are also to be eliminated, along with come off-peak-hour trains in other parts on Switzerland.

However, the draft timetable for 2023 also provides for an expansion for the leisure traffic on weekends, including between Geneva and Chur.

New direct connections are also planned on the Romanshorn-Interlaken route. This means that the tourist destinations in the Bernese Oberland will be better linked to eastern Switzerland and the Zurich area.

Swissmedic to Moderna: It’s too early for second boosters

After Paul Burton, chief medical officer of the vaccine manufacturer Moderna, announced in the Swiss media this week that vaccines will have to be administered “year after year”, Switzerland’s drug regulatory body responded that second boosters are not yet planned in the country.

Swissmedic said that neither Moderna nor other vaccine manufacturers have submitted an authorisation request for a second booster in Switzerland.

In order for the process to get off the ground,the Federal Vaccinations Commission (FVC) will also have to issue a recommendation for the booster dose before it is given to all age groups.

For people over 65 or with chronic illnesses, this will likely be possible in the fall, according to FVC head. Christoph Berger.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?

Switzerland wants to speed up the purchase of American fighter jets

Although the decision to buy 36 US-made F-35A planes remains controversial, the Federal Council decided to accelerate the purchase.

With a number of other countries buying these fighter jets as well, the government is concerned there could be delivery delays. “In order for Switzerland to be able to protect its population from air threats beyond 2030, it must receive its first F-35As as early as 2027”, the Federal Council said in a press release.

Under the terms of the agreement, the offer is valid only until March 31st, 2023, but “the deterioration of the security situation prompts the Federal Council to want to fill the gaps in military capabilities quicker than expected”.
 
No specific date is given but it will be before the March deadline, authorities said.

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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