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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

How families could end up with less disposable income and allergies on the way - this and other Swiss news in our brief daily roundup

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Austria starts trial on infamous beer theft case. Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels

Achoo! Bad news for allergy sufferers in Switzerland

‘Tis the season for watery eyes and scratchy throats.

Spring can be wonderful, except if you suffer from hay fever or other seasonal allergies that pop up at this time of the year and make you feel out of sorts.

If you are one of those people,  expect to be sneezing and sniffling a lot for the rest of the week.

That’s because according to the Swiss Allergy Center, quite a few regions in Switzerland  (marked in red on the map below) currently have a high concentration of pollen and similar allergy-inducing substances in the air.

Screenshot: Swiss Allergy Center

Purchasing power of Swiss families to drop drastically

A family with two children risks ‘losing’ more than 3,000 francs on average over a year, according to the calculation of the Swiss Trade Union (USS). For a single person, the loss would amount to 1,600 francs.

This decline in the purchasing power can be blamed on the 8 to 10-percent  increase in health premiums, as well as higher energy prices and inflation, said USS’ president Pierre-Yves Maillard.

“The middle class and low-income households are likely to suffer” the most, he said, adding that subsidies paid to needy people will have to increase by 10 percent in order to compensate for the losses.

READ MORE: How Covid, Ukraine and energy costs are changing Swiss spending habits

Yet another essential (for some) consumer good set to become more expensive

We already know that energy costs and price of certain foods have gone up or are expected to increase in the near future.

Now we get the news that beer may become more expensive as well.

That’s because Ukraine is an important producer of barley, a basic raw material used in beer production, according to Marcel Kerber, director of the Swiss Brewery Association (SBA).

How much and how quickly the prices will increase depends on the evolution of energy costs which, in turn, are determined by how much longer  the war in Ukraine will go on.

The good news, if any can be found in the current situation, is that there is no impending shortage of raw materials, as the breweries operate with long-term supply contracts, Kerber said.

So cheers to that.

Another effect of Ukraine war: Increased demand for gun licenses

In some Swiss cities and cantons, requests for weapon licenses have increased by between 50 and 100 percent since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, public broadcaster SRF reports.

Cantons like Zurich and Aargau, for example, have registered “significantly more” applications.  

“Specifically, we are talking about an increase of around 50 percent compared to the same period last year”, according to Michael Wirz, police chief of Winterthur, a city in canton Zurich.

While around 80 applications were submitted by mid-April in 2021, the figure was 127 this year, he said.

READ MORE: How Swiss weapons are being used on both sides of the Ukraine-Russia conflict

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

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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