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

From very stormy weather to Covid boosters: 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 Tuesday
Switzerland was struck by massive lightening. Image by Felix Mittermeier from Pixabay

Tens of thousands of lightning strikes hit Switzerland

The country was hit by more 20,000 strikes in past hours, according to MeteoNews weather service.

Swiss-German cantons were the most affected.

Storms, violent in some regions, contributed to a significant drop in temperatures.

However, weather should stabilise by mid-week, with very hot summer ahead.

READ MORE: Weather: Switzerland prepares for ‘record-breaking’ hot summer 

New decisions concerning Covid boosters

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the Federal Commission for Vaccinations (CFV) have issued new guidelines regarding second booster doses.

These shots are recommended for people “with a very weakened immune system”, FOPH said on Monday.

“There is no need for the general public to receive an additional booster vaccination in the current situation. According to available data, people who are fully vaccinated or vaccinated and cured are still well protected against severe forms of COVID-19”.

For those who need boosters for trips abroad, the government is “evaluating the possibilities” to administer the shots. This is all the more important as some countries still require proof of vaccination to enter and millions of Swiss certificates will expire by autumn at the latest.

Expanded guidelines for fourth doses for the fall will be issued within the next few weeks, FOPH said, adding that Switzerland has a sufficient number of vaccine doses.

READ MORE: What will Switzerland do about the ‘millions’ of expiring Covid certificates?

Switzerland is “on the move” – sort of

Did you know that Switzerland is moving slowly but steadily, along with neighbouring countries, about 2.5 centimetres every year towards Europe’s northeast part, according to the Federal Office of Topography (Swisstopo)?

Swisstopo’s specialists are measuring the country to the nearest millimetre to determine these movements.

The measurements are based on a network of 220 landmarks whose exact coordinates are known. They are then compared with the results of the measurements carried out every six years to see the shifts.

The exact position of fixed points is important for several reasons, including for the construction of infrastructure such as bridges, roads or pipelines.

Switzerland may not find itself near the Baltic sea in our lifetimes, but it’s good to know the country is not stagnant.

Weasels cause 40 million francs of damage each year

Many motorists in Switzerland know the experience of trying to start their cars in the morning and not being able to do so. That could be because weasels sneaked into the engine at night and chewed the cables. This happens most often, but not only, in the month of May.

“Each year, 17,000 weasel claims are declared to AXA Switzerland, which represents an amount of 8 million francs in total”, the insurer said in a press release.  

Extrapolated to the whole country, the amounts likely reach 40 million per year, according to AXA.

The number of vehicles chewed up  by weasels — also known as martens —  has increased in recent years, especially in the cantons of Jura, Glarus, Thurgau and Schaffhausen, where the risk of suffering a weasel-related loss is, for inexplicable reasons, “up to 80 percent higher than the Swiss average”.

READ MORE:  Why your Swiss car insurance should contain a ‘weasel clause’

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

Same-sex marriage becomes legal, the number of Covid cases is underestimated, and other news from Switzerland on Friday.

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

Same-sex couples can marry — at last

Today, July 1st, is a historic day for gay couples wishing to wed: they finally have that right in Switzerland.

After the Swiss voted to legalise same-sex marriage in a nationwide referendum on September 26th, 2021, the new law is entering into force today.

These couples will also be able to convert their registered partnership — which did not provide the same rights as marriage, including for obtaining citizenship and the joint adoption of children — into a legal marriage.

READ MORE: Same-sex couples can marry from July 1st in Switzerland

Other laws and rules that are being implemented from July 2022 are detailed here:

Everything that changes in Switzerland in July 2022

Number of current Covid cases in Switzerland is underestimated

This week, 33,108 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Switzerland in a span of seven days, an increase of 34 percent over the previous week.

However, health officials believe the real number of new infections is much higher. That’s because, judging by how many antigen or PCR tests have been done during this period of time, only a small portion of the infected population actually gets screened; most positive cases are therefore not detected.

Swiss health officials already said that 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the Omicron virus (or its sub-variants) this summer.

On the positive side, “the situation is a little better” now than during the Delta variant wave, according to Tanja Stadler, former head of the Covid-19 Task Force, who also said that, despite the increase in cases, Swiss healthcare system will not be overloaded.

READ MORE: ‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

Heavy traffic on many Swiss roads this weekend

With several cantons beginning their school summer holidays this weekend, bottlenecks are expected to slow down traffic within Switzerland as well as on motorways and in tunnels leading to neighbour countries.

These roads are usually most congested during high-volume times like the start of holidays:

  • The A3/A1 Basel-Zurich axis
  • The A3/A13 Zurich-Chur-San Bernardino-Bellinzona-Chiasso axis, particularly near Chur and the San Bernardino tunnel
  • Bern and surroundings (A1/A12/A6 interchange)
  • The A9 Lausanne-Montreux-Martigny-Brigue mainly near Lausanne and Montreux
  • The Martigny – Grand-St.-Bernard tunnel axis

READ MORE: What you should know about driving in Switzerland — and abroad — this summer

Switzerland and France will be linked together

A bridge is to be built between Basel and Huningue, a town in Alsace – the first Rhine bridge connecting Switzerland and France.

On Thursday, Swiss officials, along with their counterparts from France, and Germany — the two countries that border Basel —signed an agreement for the project to start in 2025, and unveiled the plans for the new connection across the river.

“A new bridge over the Rhine is central to growing together and mobility in the three countries”, officials said.

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]