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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
Drinks and peanuts are not included, but think how cool this seat will look in your living room. Photo by Pixabay

More than 3,000 Ukrainians have received S status since Saturday

The Federal Council decided to activate this special status starting on March 12th. Since then, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has granted it to 3,117 Ukrainian refugees.

Up to 60,000 Ukrainians could seek refuge in Switzerland, according to Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter.

The S status means Ukrainians can stay one year in Switzerland without having to go through the asylum procedure, and are allowed to work, as well as go to school, while here.

 “A gainful activity is essential for people on the run to be able to participate in social and professional life and gain financial independence”, Keller-Sutter said, adding that the S status also gives refugees access to language courses.

READ MORE: Switzerland’s special visa program: What Ukrainians need to know

People living near Swiss power plants received iodine tablets

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has increased fears across Europe, including in Switzerland, that nuclear reactors could be bombed, releasing radioactive substances that can cause thyroid cancer.

Defence Minister Viola Amherd told members of the parliament that iodine tablets, believed to protect the thyroid gland from radiation, were already distributed to everyone living within a 50-km radius around Swiss power plants.

For the others, it is up to the cantons to ensure that their entire population receives these tablets within 12 hours after a national order is given, she said.

Regarding the question from MPs about when this measure would be taken, Amherd said the timing would depend on the place of the accident and whether the wind would blow the radioactivity toward Switzerland.

In the event of an incident and heightened risk, the National Emergency Operations Centre would instruct the population accordingly.

SWISS airline auctions off its Economy Class seats

If you have ever dreamed of having an authentic airplane seat in your house, then now is your chance to bid on one.

The national carrier is teaming up with an online auction house, Ricardo, to sell its Economy Class seats from the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft that have been eliminated after the airline installed the new Premium Economy Class cabins. 

All the proceeds from the auction will be donated by SWISS to the Pigna Foundation, which “offers people with disabilities a place to live and work along with care and support that are tailored to their needs”, the airline said.

Ukraine war slows down “somewhat” Switzerland’s economic recovery

Experts at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) have downgraded Switzerland’s economic outlook.

While overall the country will continue on the road to post-Covid recovery throughout 2022, its pace will be “somewhat slower” than expected.

SECO has revised its 2022 growth forecast to 2.8 percent, versus 3 percent predicted in December.

“The Swiss economy would thus continue its pandemic recovery for now with above-average GDP growth, but with less momentum than in the previous forecast”, SECO pointed out.

“This scenario is assuming no significant downturn among key trading partners and, in particular, no major energy and raw material shortages in Europe”.

READ MORE: How will the war in Ukraine impact the cost of living 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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