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

Robots teaching English to toddlers in Geneva and will Switzerland make military service mandatory for women? All this and more in our morning roundup.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Women recruits could become a common sight in Switzerland.. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

 Covid recovery certificates adapted to EU rules

The Federal Council decided on Wednesday that Covid recovery certificates can be issued on the basis of a positive rapid antigen test or a laboratory-based immunological analysis. Because of new rules in the EU, these certificates will be recognised internationally. 

They can be issued retroactively for positive test results from October 2nd, 2021. 

“Such certificates were already issued in Switzerland between January 24th and February 16th, 2022”,  the Federal Council said.

However, “because no similar rules existed at EU level at the time, they were only valid in Switzerland. Certificates already issued on this basis must be applied for again and re-issued for international compatibility”.  

The new ruling will enter into force on May 2nd, 2022.

Swiss parliamentarians visit Ukraine

After UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went to Ukraine recently, it is now the turn of Swiss elected officials to visit the war-torn country.

Four MPs arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday at the invitation of the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Ruslan Stefanschuk, who said the delegation’s visit “is more than a sign of solidarity”.

“They thanked us and said they very much appreciated that Switzerland adopted European sanctions”, according to one MP, Roger Nordmann, who added that it was “very important for Ukrainians that we came there”.

READ MORE: Switzerland brands war in Ukraine ‘devastating madness

Will Switzerland introduce obligatory military service for women?

An inter-party committee launched a popular initiative on Wednesday calling for an  introduction of compulsory military or civil protection service for women.

Committee members say any person of Swiss nationality should serve in the military or a similar service recognised by law, such as civil protection, for instance.

The committee has until October 26th, 2023 to collect 100,000 signatures needed to bring this issue to the ballot box.

If the measure is approved at a future referendum, Switzerland would become the third country in the world, after Israel and Norway, to make military service compulsory for both sexes.

READ MORE: Women in Swiss military can finally wear women’s underwear

Geneva robots teach English to toddlers

At some Geneva schools, young children are following imaginative language courses, allowing them not only to learn English, but also the basics of digitalisation.

Toy-sized robots, named Emys, engage and interact with children — in English of course — but it is their (human) teacher who chooses activities, like story-time, for example, and ensures that robots function correctly.

“It’s like a lesson assistant who helps me manage the differences in levels to encourage the less able to participate and show the students how to learn independently”, the teacher, Katarzyna Butty, told Tribune de Genève.

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 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]