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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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
Swiss roads will be very busy this weekend. Image by gs1703 from Pixabay

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]

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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

Weather is finally becoming more 'reasonable', salaries are set to slightly increase in 2023, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Monday.

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

It is finally raining in Switzerland, but is this enough?

After weeks of hot and dry weather, rain fell on many parts of Switzerland yesterday. This wet trend is expected to continue today, strengthening on Wednesday or Thursday, according to Nicolas Borgognon, a meteorologist at MeteoNews.

However, while it provides some relief for agriculture and nature in general, it is not certain whether the amount of rain will be sufficient to counteract the effects of drought that has impacted much of Switzerland.

“For that, it would take regular rain of low to moderate intensity, lasting at least 48 hours”, Borgognon said. “And at the moment, this is not yet envisaged”.

Gap between high and low salaries is growing

A new study into income disparity carried out by Unia labour union shows that in 2021, executives of 43 largest Swiss companies — including such giants as Roche, UBS, and Nestlé — earned an average of 141 times more than their lowest-paid employees.

While salaries of the lowest paid employees grew by only 0.5 percent between 2016 and 2020 (the last year for which official data is available), for the higher-ups the increase was 4 percent.

The union is callling for general raises, with the money taken away from shareholders and given to the employees instead.

“In this period marked by inflation and a possible spike in health insurance premiums, increases are becoming urgent”, Unia added.

But here’s also good news on the salary front…

Next year, wages are expected to increase by 2.2 percent on average

A survey by the KOF Economic Research Center of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich forecasts the average salary increase of 2.2 percent in 2023 — the largest one in 22 years.

The biggest increases — about 4.4 percent — will be in the restaurant and hotel industry, the sector that is among the most impacted by staff shortages.  

According to Valentin Vogt, president of the Swiss Employers’ Association, many companies have drawn on their reserves during the Covid pandemic, and do not have the financial capacity for higher increases.

READ: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?
 

Swiss schools don’t have enough teachers

As classes resume this week in many parts of Switzerland, a number of schools in various cantons are worried about scarcity of teachers.

According to education officials, this shortage is “more serious than ever”, driven mainly by  many teachers “feeling overwhelmed” by all the demands and pressure, in addition to actual teaching, including too many administrative tasks.

Added to this is the effort required to integrate children from Ukraine into local schools, which further complicates the already tense situation.

READ MORE : Why teachers in Swiss schools are worried about falling education standards

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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