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

From cancelled flights to destroyed Covid vaccines: 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 Friday
Hundreds of Easyjet flights are grounded this weekend. Image by b1-foto from Pixabay

Easyjet cancels hundreds of fights

In the middle of the travel-heavy Ascension weekend, the airline cancelled between 200 and 400 flights in Europe, most of them from Geneva.

The fault lies with an undefined “IT problem”.

Easyjet advises all passengers booked for this weekend to check the status of their flights.

Russians continue to vacation in Switzerland

Even though no flights from Russia have not been allowed to land in Switzerland since sanctions against Vladimir Putin had been put into place at the end of February, a number of visitors from that country have been spotted recently at the some traditional tourist destinations, including Zermatt, St. Moritz, and others.

How do these people manage to come to Switzerland?

It turns out Russian travel agencies and individual tourists circumvent the Swiss and European sanctions by flying from Russia to Dubai or Turkey, and then taking a plane from there to Switzerland, according to a report in Blick.

People who book their flight this way are wealthy, as dodging the sanctions doesn’t come cheap.

The Blick calculated  that a one-week holiday for two people in Switzerland, including a round-trip flight from Russia to Switzerland via Dubai or Turkey, costs about 450’000 rubles (6,700 francs), while an average monthly wage in Russia amounts to just over 56,000 rubles—  828 francs.

You do the math.

READ MORE: Reader question: Do Russians now have to leave Switzerland?

Government to destroy 620,000 doses of Covid vaccines

More than 620,000 Moderna doses whose expiration date has passed will be destroyed, according to RTS public broadcaster.

The reason, said health policy expert  Patrick Durisch, is that Swiss government purchased far too many vaccines.

 “We are talking about 34 million doses for a country of over 8 million inhabitants. If we remove the children and those who are reluctant to get vaccinated, we have five to six doses per person”.

For Durisch, acquiring extra quantities of doses in a pandemic is legitimate, but over-buying to the extent that Swiss authorities did is not.

“We have always planned for a double vaccination and boosters, but never five or six “, he said.

Switzerland calls on beverage manufacturers to cut sugar

The government is asking companies producing soft drinks to make them less sweet, as excessive sugar consumption can have adverse effects on health, including an increased risk of developing diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular disease.

The Federal Council’s goal is to reduce sugar content by an average of 10 percent by 2024.

However “sugar reduction is not that easy. An entire business model is at stake for beverage manufacturers. A cola with less sugar doesn’t taste the same as one based on the original recipe — and it probably doesn’t sell well”, according to Watson news portal.

The government’s goal is to “get consumers accustomed to a less sweet taste” so that they can also choose healthier versions of other foods, Watson noted.

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 Wednesday

Worsening education standards in Swiss schools, the outlook for the value of the Swiss Franc and other news in our daily roundup from Switzerland on Wednesday.

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

Switzerland celebrates anniversary of first train

Switzerland — famous for its punctual railways — celebrated the 175th anniversary of passenger train services in the country on Tuesday with a re-creation of the first journey featuring a steam locomotive.

The first train service on August 9, 1847 linked Zurich with Baden, 23 kilometres to the northwest — a trip which took 33 minutes.

Transport minister Simonetta Sommaruga and around 150 guests boarded the special train to Zurich to mark the anniversary, which involved historic carriages and a steam locomotive.

“The train is part of our basic service. It brings people together and strengthens cohesion in our country,” Sommaruga said, according to the ATS national news agency.

The line between Zurich and Baden was built in 16 months. One of the original bridges is still in use.

Swiss teachers concerned about education standards

Switzerland’s teachers’ association has warned of worsening standards of education at schools because of a lack of certified staff.

Association president Dagmar Rösler told a news conference that an increasing number of primary schools have had to bring in supply staff who are not qualified to be a teacher. 

Rösler said the situation was worse in the German-speaking cantons in Switzerland and that schools were having trouble recruiting teachers to fill vacant positions ahead of the new term.

Rösler warned that the knock-on effect could see parents opt to place their children in private schools or opt for home schooling.

Covid update

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP) announced on Tuesday that there have been 21,817 new cases of coronavirus in the last seven days. There have also been 25 additional deaths and 327 patients have been hospitalised in the same period.

Those figures reflect a 6.6 percent fall in the number of new cases but a 12.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalisations.

On Tuesday some 600 people were being treated in intensive care in Switzerland with Covid-19 patients occupying 6 percent of the places available.

The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic in Switzerland stands at 13,559 and the overall number of people people hospitalised has reached 57,014.

Swiss Franc to remain level with the Euro

The value of the Swiss franc should remain steady at just below parity with the euro in the coming months, economists have said.

To slow inflationary trends, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) is no longer curbing the appreciation of the national currency as much, economists from the group Raffeissen said.

The franc fell below parity with the euro in early July and has remained steady since then. On Wednesday it was trading at around €0.97. At the start of the year, the franc was still worth €1.0379.