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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
Mortgage rates in Switzerland are dropping. Photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels

Significant increase in Covid cases in Switzerland

Coronavirus is making a comeback, with 33,754 new cases reported in Switzerland on Wednesday — 10,000 more than the already high number of 23,684 registered the day before.

Infection rate went up by 42.5 percent in a span of one week.

Among those recently infected with the virus is none other than Health Minister Alain Berset, who went into isolation after testing positive on Wednesday afternoon.

Hospitalisations and death rates, on the other hand, have not increased.

The resurgence of Covid is neither surprising nor necessarily negative, as “these contaminations contribute to building our immunity”, according to Didier Pittet, head of the infection prevention service at Geneva’s University Hospitals (HUG).

READ MORE:‘Not bad news’: Why Swiss experts are optimistic about rising Covid cases

Swiss mortgage rates are sinking

Good news is on the horizon for Switzerland’s homeowners, though it is happening for an unfortunate reason: the effects of the Ukraine war are causing mortgage interest rates in Switzerland to drop. According to experts, further declines in interest rates can be expected in the coming weeks.

Overall, almost a third of the rise in interest rates since the beginning of the year has been wiped out.

An average fixed-rate mortgage rate for the 10 best deals from mortgage broker Moneypark now falls between six and eight points compared to February. A 10-year fixed-rate mortgage is offered at the rate of 1.31 percent, with the best offer being 1.05 percent.

Switzerland makes another concession for Ukrainians

Swiss authorities have already made several exceptions for Ukrainians refugees, including facilitating entry procedures for those fleeing the war in their country.

Now the Federal Office of Customs and Border Security (OFDF) has also lifted, for all vehicles transporting Ukrainian refugees or humanitarian deliveries to Ukraine, the obligation to have a motorway sticker affixed to the car’s window shield. 

Motorway vignette. Photo by OFDF
 

Trend reversal: Germans are coming to shop in Switzerland

Even though common goods are generally cheaper in Germany, especially now that the euro reached parity with the franc, retailers on the Swiss side of the border are noticing more German customers in their shops.

The reason: in Germany masks are still compulsory in stores, so German shopping tourists are increasingly flocking to the Swiss border towns, according to local retailers.

“We have a lot more customers from Germany”, said Ruth Domeisen, a shopkeeper Stein am Rhein, canton Schaffhausen.

“They want to shop without wearing a mask”.

READ MORE: Parity with the euro: Why the Swiss franc is now so strong

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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