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WHAT CHANGES IN SWITZERLAND

Everything that changes in Switzerland in August 2022

From ban on fireworks and new Covid testing rules, to uncertain weather: this is what August will look like in Switzerland.

Everything that changes in Switzerland in August 2022
A Swiss flag floats in Rutli meadow, considered as the birthplace of Switzerland. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Swiss National Day

The entire country will come together to celebrate Swiss National Day on August 1st, marking 731 years since Switzerland as we know it was created. 

READ MORE: Why Switzerland celebrates its National Day on August 1st

The August 1st date marks an important and defining moment in Switzerland’s history: the date in 1291 when cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden pledged autonomy from foreign powers — the promise that has been holding true ever since.

However, things may look a little different – particularly at night. 

While August 1st is traditionally celebrated with fireworks and bonfires – for reasons we go into here – the night sky will be a little duller in much of the country in 2022. 

Due to continued heatwave and drought, cantons and municipalities across the country have banned fireworks displays and bonfires. 

As at July 26th, the cantons of Graubünden, Ticino, Thurgau, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, Uri, Glarus, Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel, and Fribourg have banned their fireworks displays. 

Certain Zurich municipalities have prohibited this practice as well, while further cantons have indicated they may also prohibit fireworks should they be unsafe. 

READ MORE: Why most of the country will celebrate without fireworks this Swiss National Day

Medical marijuana approved in Switzerland

As of August 1st, the use of cannabis for medical purposes is allowed in Switzerland

Patients who are medically prescribed the drug will no longer need to seek exceptional permission from the health ministry, as was the case prior to August 1st. 

Demand for cannabis-based treatments has risen sharply, with the health ministry issuing 3,000 exceptional authorisations in 2019.

But this involved “tedious administrative procedures”, said the ministry. “Sick people must be able to access these medicines without excessive bureaucracy.”

As of August 1st, “the decision as to whether a cannabis medicinal product is to be used therapeutically will be made by the doctor together with the patient” the government wrote

The sale and consumption of cannabis for non-medical purposes will remain prohibited.

READ MORE: Switzerland to lift ban on medical use cannabis

Travel chaos in Europe

Summer months are set to be chaotic in travelling, and we have seen examples of airports congested throughout Europe. This will continue during August, as airlines across Europe have now cancelled more than 25,000 flights from their August schedule.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: Airlines cancel 1000s flights in August

As The Local reported in mid-July, Switzerland has not been spared the flight crisis sweeping the world. 

The situation is particularly bad at Zurich Airport, which is Switzerland’s largest. 

Zurich Airport saw an increase of almost 250 percent compared to last year, while passenger levels are fast approaching the highs set before the pandemic. 

So far in summer, this has led to around half of all flights being delayed, while one in 50 has been cancelled and around 250 items of luggage have been lost daily. 

Reader question: How bad is the situation at Zurich Airport?

New rules for Covid testing in Zurich

Starting on August 1st, new criteria will apply to testing centres and pharmacies in the canton of Zurich.

From this date, nasal swabs for rapid antigen and PCR tests can only be carried out by personnel with basic medical training, including medical students and pharmacy assistants.

Prior to August 1st, other people were also authorised to perform these tests after receiving appropriate training.

Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

The Federal Council returns to work

After several weeks of absence for summer holidays, the Federal Council will be back at work on August 17th.

Among topics on its agenda will be decisions regarding second Covid boosters, such as the date when the shots will be available to the general population.

Cabinet members will also discuss whether Switzerland should adapt new sanctions against Russia, notably targeting gold deliveries to Switzerland, which are reportedly on-going.

Photo by Pixabay

READ MORE: Why is Switzerland importing Russian gold?

Students head back to school

Public school start dates vary from canton to canton — the earliest, in Aargau, is on August 5th, while the latest, in Ticino, on August 26th.

In most cantons, classes begin between the mid and third week of the month.

The jet stream brings us more heatwaves

The number of extreme heatwaves in Europe is increasing much faster than in other regions. Experts suspect a change in air circulation in the atmosphere is responsible.

Although it’s hard to predict the weather in advance or to know whether the intense heat will continue, in general August tends to bring with it the last warm days before the autumn chill  kicks in.

The average “normal” daytime temperatures in Switzerland in August are slow to mid-20s, but there is nothing “normal” about the weather this summer, so it is difficult to know what lies ahead.

But even if temperatures stabilise in August, it will likely be too late to reverse the damage suffered by Swiss glaciers: aside from melting of the ice and snow, the heatwave has shifted the freezing point for Alpine peaks upwards from 4,000 -plus metres to the altitude of  above 5,100-metres.

READ MORE: Heatwave smashes Swiss Alps temperature record

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WHAT CHANGES IN SWITZERLAND

Key Points: What changes in Switzerland in October 2022

From a new way to pay your bills online and updated booster vaccines to be rolled out, to a possible pilots' strike — this is what's ahead for Switzerland in October.

Key Points: What changes in Switzerland in October 2022

New pay slips go into effect

The customary red or orange payment forms used to pay bills online in Switzerland will become obsolete from October 1st.

The new black and white forms include QR codes and IBAN, rather than bank account numbers and other information that you have had to input manually.

You can scan the code using mobile app from your bank. Once you do, the data will be automatically transmitted to your e-banking.

This article explains how the new system works:

EXPLAINED: What you should know about Switzerland’s new slips for paying bills online

Dual-strain Covid boosters to start

As the drug regulator Swissmedic approved the new version of the Moderna vaccine in August, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said the shots will be available to some groups of the population — including those over 65 or with low immunity — from October 10th.

The new vaccine is better than its predecessor at targeting certain sub-variants of Omicron, which are now dominant in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Switzerland to start dual-strain Covid boosters in October
 

Autumn school vacations

The autumn school break in most Swiss cantons falls some time in October, and lasts either one or two weeks, depending on canton.
This calendar shows when public schools will be off, and for how long, in each canton.

SWISS airline pilots could go on strike

The pilots’ union, Aeropers, which has been negotiating salary increases and improved working conditions with Switzerland’s national airline, has rejected the carrier’s latest collective labour agreement and is threatening to go on strike on October 17th.

“SWISS has not sufficiently entered into the matter of the legitimate interests of its pilots”, Aeropers said, adding that if the airline doesn’t come up with a better offer, the union “will initiate the procedures for a strike”.

READ MORE: SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

Health insurance carriers to publish their 2023 rates

Premiums for the compulsory health insurance (KVG / LaMal) will be released — and communicated to policyholders — no later than October 31st.

They will likely rise by an average of 5 percent, with some even soaring by more than 10 percent in 2023 — the sharpest hike in premiums in 20 years.

All those who wish to switch to a cheaper insurance in 2023 must do so by November 30.

READ MORE: How to save money by changing your Swiss health policy

The Federal Council is about to get trendy

At a yet unspecified date in October, Switzerland’s Federal Council will launch its own Instagram account.

It will be used to present the Council’s policies, activities and projects.

The government is already active on Twitter and other social media, and has its own YouTube channel as well.

Daylight Saving Time ends

A sure sign that the warm and sunny weather is over is having to wind the clocks back ahead of the coming winter. 

On Sunday, October 30th, clocks in Switzerland will be turned back one hour at 3am.

This means sunrise and sunset will be about one hour earlier.

The good news is that we all get an extra hour of sleep. The bad news is that it’s going to get darker earlier in the evening. 

New energy-saving measures could go into effect

While this is not yet certain, the government could either recommend or mandate further steps to cut energy consumption.

This may become necessary if, as the weather gets colder and electricity usage increases, it turns out that energy is becoming scarce.

For the time being, the Federal Council issued only general recommendations to prevent energy shortages.

READ MORE: What the Swiss government is asking you to do to save energy

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