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: 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]