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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

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 Wednesday
Driving miles out of your way to save just a few centimes on a litre of petrol may not be worth your while. Photo by Pixabay

At last: The number of new Covid cases declining

Over 30,000 new daily infections were recorded in Switzerland after most measures were scrapped on February 17th — sparking fears that Swiss healthcare system would soon be overwhelmed with coronavirus patients — but the numbers are now on the downward trend.

With “only” 14,393 cases reported by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) on Tuesday, against 23,793 on March 22nd, infections went down by almost 40 percent within a span of one week.

At the same time, Covid-related hospitalisations fell by 21.4 percent, according to FOPH.

This is positive news, but health authorities want to see how the epidemiological situation unfolds after the remaining restrictions — mask requirements on public transport and in health establishments, as well as the obligation to isolate if tested positive — are lifted from April 1st.

Price watchdog: Swiss need an app showing the cheapest petrol stations

With fuel prices climbing due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “there is an urgent need to set up an application in Switzerland showing the five cheapest stations in a motorist’s area,” said Stefan Meierhans, head of Swiss government’s price surveillance office.

“Consumers need to be able to compare prices in real time”, he added.

However, a motoring organisation, Touring Clus Suisse (TCS), is urging drivers to use common sense and not go too far out of their way to fuel up.

For instance, a detour of 20 kilometres round trip just to save three cents per litre is not advantageous for the wallet or the environment, TCS said.  

READ MORE: Petrol to top CHF2 per litre in several Swiss cantons

A number of Russian diplomats in Switzerland are spies

Around a third of the Russian diplomats accredited in Switzerland are either known members of the Russian intelligence service or suspected of working for the secret service under diplomatic cover.

Russian spies are routinely sent to various countries, including Switzerland, as official diplomats. Once there, they infiltrate different groups, gaining access to secret information.

The Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) has identified “continued aggressive espionage activity” in Switzerland, which came to the forefront especially since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

READ MORE: How Switzerland is preparing to fend off Russian cyberattacks

Public finances yield positive post-pandemic results — for now

With the improvement of the epidemiological situation, “the recovery of the Swiss economy should lead to positive fiscal balances in the cantons and social security funds sub-sectors”, the Federal Council announced.

A surplus of about 3 billion francs is expected in 2022 and gross debt should start to decline again from 2023 onward, the government said.

It added, however, that “in light of the Ukraine conflict, these forecasts are coupled with uncertainties”.

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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