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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
Obsolete Swiss military equipment would be ineffective in battle.Photo by Simon Infanger on Unsplash

The validity of the recovery certificate reduced by three months

The Federal Council decided to reduce the validity period of Covid certificates issued to those who recovered from the disease from 270 to 180 days.

This new measure only concerns people who travel to certain countries, since the certificate is no longer mandatory in Switzerland or to enter the country from abroad.

However, unvaccinated people from some countries outside the Schengen area (so-called third countries) remain subject to certain entry conditions, which are outlined here.

Experts: Covid infection rate five times higher than reported

The number of new daily coronavirus cases is likely to be significantly higher than official data indicates, according to Rudolf Hauri, president of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors.

While the number of new infections released by the Federal Department of Public Health in the past few weeks has hovered at around 30,000 a day, Hauri estimates that the more realistic figure, which includes unreported cases, reaches 150,000 contaminations daily.

He said the lifting of the mask requirement effective from February 17th is accelerating the upward trend and the number of hospital admissions is likely to increase as well.

READ MORE: Was Switzerland’s Covid pandemic management the ‘second-best in the world’?

Raising a glass for peace in Ukraine

Switzerland has already helped Ukraine in several ways, but now there is another effort to support the war-torn country: a Swiss company based in Zug has launched “Vodka Zelensky” to honour the Ukrainian president.

Screenshot from Vodka Zelensky’s press release

All profits from the sales will be donated to the country until at least 2026, the company said. For now, the sum of 10 francs per bottle, sold at 40 francs, will go to humanitarian organisations.

READ MORE: UPDATE: How Switzerland is supporting refugees from Ukraine

Swiss military “too archaic” to defend the country, expert says

For Albert A. Stahel, professor of military strategy at the University of Zurich, “our army is archaic. In the event of an attack like the one in Ukraine, Switzerland would only last a few days because it would have to fight with old weapons.”

This observation is based on the army’s current inventory: it is still made up of anti-aircraft guns acquired in 1963, during the Vietnam War, as well as tanks and armored howitzers from the 60s and 70s.

As for the Air Force’s 40-year-old combat aircraft, even the Defence Ministry has conceded the aging fleet would have “no chance” against a modern adversary.

There have been repeated calls lately from MPs for better military equipment  for ground troops, and Switzerland has already approved the purchase of 36 new F-35A fighter jets  — the decision which is still under debate as some politicians oppose it.

READ MORE: Could Switzerland defend itself against invasion?

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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