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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

What is SBB not telling its passengers? Find out about this and other Swiss news from The Local's short roundup of latest events.

Ukrainian refugees walk at Zurich Airport after landing from Krakow in a plane chartered by a Swiss millionaire at Zurich Airport, on March 22, 2022. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Ukrainian refugees walk at Zurich Airport after landing from Krakow in a plane chartered by a Swiss millionaire at Zurich Airport, on March 22, 2022. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Government to “redistribute” Ukrainian refugees

Since the start of the war, many people who fled Ukraine have been staying with relatives or friends in Switzerland. Until now, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) allocated these people to cantons where they found refuge.

However, this system resulted in some cantons having a disproportionately high (in relation to local population) number of refugees. In order to redistribute them more evenly, the government will allocate  new arrivals to cantons which, so far, have received proportionally fewer refugees than the high-volume ones. This system will be implemented even if Ukrainian arrivals have family and guaranteed lodgings in other cantons.

The reason for this move, authorities said, is that some cantons not only have to accommodate more people and enrol more children in local schools, “but they also have to assume more social assistance to ensure the subsistence of these people and provide more supervision services”.

With the exception of special cases (defined by the authorities), the refugees will have no say regarding the canton to which they will be allocated. That is a condition set by the government for receiving public aid.

The new allocation system will begin on Monday and continue until more proportional distribution is achieved.

READ MORE: Switzerland defends decision to place Ukrainian refugees in underground bunkers

Post-Covid phenomenon: Passengers ‘confused’ by masked train staff

Although masks are no longer required  on public transportation in Switzerland, many Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) train inspectors continue to wear them nevertheless.

This causes confusion and suspicion among some commuters, who are wondering whether railway personnel  is privy to pandemic-related information, while passengers are kept in the dark .

“Dear @RailService, it’s nice to finally be able to look at mask-free faces again”, one commuter tweeted. “But your inspectors all wear masks. Do they know something your passengers don’t?”

In response,  company spokesperson Sabrina Schellenberg said SBB personnel has no secret Covid-related insight; they are free to wear masks if they want to, but are not obligated to so when travelling within Switzerland.

However, on international routes train staff must wear masks if the country they are travelling to or transiting still has this requirement in place.

Democracy at work, again: Appenzell’s Landsgemeinde returns on Sunday

After a two-year absence due to Covid, the old local tradition of open-air assembly where people vote by a show of hands is resuming in Appenzell Innerrhoden on Sunday.

Voters in the tiny canton in eastern Switzerland that has just over 16,000 inhabitants will weigh in on a variety of issues of regional importance, including funds for the renovation and expansion of a residence for the elderly, as well as for the construction of a cycle and pedestrian route.

Citizens will also have to accept or reject the merger of two districts, and a revision of the hunting law, which aims to better protect animals in winter.

Appenzell Innerrhoden and Glarus are the only cantons to maintain the Landsgemeinde, a 600-year-old tradition that takes place annually at the end of April.

Before the pandemic, the Landsgemeinde had never been canceled or postponed since 1850.

READ MORE: How Switzerland’s direct democracy system works

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 Friday

From online scams to avoid to hot weather forecast: find out what's going on on Friday in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

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

Campaign launched against online shopping scams

Swiss police are warning the public against online shopping scams, including  the latest one, involving the activation of an online payment system that allows scammers to make several online purchases at the expense of the victim.

The best way to protect yourself and not fall prey to scammers, police say is to:

  • Always verify the sender and amount when receiving a payment request;
  • Never transmit a confirmation code to third parties;
  • Always check account statements;
  • Immediately report any suspicious transactions;
  • Report any such crime to the police.

All the advice and recommendations can be found on this website.

READ MORE:  How to avoid the most common online scams in Switzerland

Free travel for Ukrainian refugees to end

Since March 21st, refugees from Ukraine have traveled free of charge in on public transportation in Switzerland, a service which was provided by the federal government.

This perk, however, will end from June 1st.

“This free travel saved us from considerable administrative work, as these people would have had to be issued transport cards for each stage of their registration procedure”, according to Anne Césard, spokesperson for the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

A number of MPs are challenging this decision, however.

 “If these people can no longer travel for free, this will constitute an additional obstacle to their chances of integration, knowing that the financial aid granted to them is very low”, said Pierre-Yves Maillard.

“As long as the majority of these people cannot meet their needs sufficiently, we must continue to help them by extending this free service, even if it is in the form of a subsidy”, said another deputy , Benjamin Roduit.

United States impressed by Swiss sanctions

The US government has praised what Switzerland has done so far in the search for Russian funds to block, according to Scott Miller, the American ambassador to Switzerland.

Bern has made “immense progress” in freezing about  6.3 billion francs, belonging primarily to Russian oligarchs with ties to president Putin.

“This is a package of sanctions of a weight and breadth that, to be honest, have never been seen in the world”, he added.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why Switzerland is a magnet for Russian money
 

Get ready to be very hot today

If Swiss meteorologists got it right, temperatures will reach the high of 32 degrees today.

“The current heat wave is relatively extreme for a month of May”, said meteorologist Joshua Gehring from official weather service MeteoSwiss.

Screenshot MeteoSwiss

The reason: “What we are currently experiencing, that is to say a relatively early heat wave, is a direct consequence of climate change”, Gehring noted.

READ MORE: Heatwave: Why is it so hot in Switzerland right now?

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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