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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: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

France complains about Swiss jobs, railway strike to disrupt train traffic, and other news from Switzerland on Tuesday.

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

Extension of cross-border home-working agreement creates ‘competitive disadvantage’

On June 29th, agreements concerning taxes and social security contributions of French cross-border employees who are still working from home were extended until October 31st.

Companies in France’s Haute-Savoie region, where most of cross-border workers employed in Geneva come from, are upset, claiming that home-office agreement makes working in Switzerland even more attractive for French workers, at the detriment of local businesses.

According to Christophe Coriou, head of the Haute-Savoie section of French employers, “these agreements accentuate the competitive disadvantage” of French companies compared to Swiss jobs — in terms of salaries, but also lower taxes and other perks.

“By emptying them of their human resources, Geneva penalises companies in Haute-Savoie”,  Coriou  said, adding that “teleworking of cross-border workers, which is perceived as an additional attraction to the salary, accentuates the competitive disadvantage of companies in neighboring France”.

READ MORE: Why French cross-border workers choose to work in Switzerland

And speaking of the Swiss-French border…

Railroad strike to affect cross-border train

A strike by French railroad workers scheduled to begin tonight at 7 pm and continue on Wednesday, will impact the Léman Express train, which links Vaud and Geneva with towns in France.

The normal schedule will be disrupted, and alternative transport on sections of the route will be put into place between certain stations.

Inflation has no impact on Swiss real estate prices

Although rising inflation — from 2.6 percent in April to 3.4 percent in June —  has increased the cost of living in Switzerland, property prices have not followed the upward so far, according to  Swiss marketplace group ( SMG) and the real estate consulting firm Cifi.

“Real estate prices do not currently seem to be influenced by the rise in key interest rates and inflation. Condominium apartments raised their prices by 1.1 percent compared to May, while single-family homes showed relative stagnation at 0.3 percent”, SMG said.

Rents are also mostly stable, increasing by only 0.1 percent. The biggest increase in expected to be in energy prices.

READ MORE: Inflation in Switzerland hits 3.4 percent for June

Forget milk and eggs…get fuel at the farm

Switzerland’s first biogas filling station is on a farm in Thayngen, Schaffhausen. The fuel comes from cow dung.

“It comes from manure, liquid manure and organic waste from our farm and other local farms,” said farmer Christian Müller.

While biogas may provide an alternative to regular fuel at a time when shortage may be looming, it is not cheap: a kilo — which corresponds to 1.5 litres — costs almost 2.90 francs, slightly more than fuelling up at the regular pump.

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]