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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

Everything that changes in Switzerland in July 2022

Same-sex marriage, new rules for cars, and music festivals: this is what's in store for Switzerland in July.

Everything that changes in Switzerland in July 2022

Same-sex couples can marry at last

After Switzerland voted to legalise same-sex marriage in a nationwide referendum on September 26th, 2021, the new law will enter into force on July 1st.

Gay 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 — will suffice to convert a current partnership.

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

Sessions with psychologists will be reimbursed by health insurance

Until now, Swiss basic insurance (KVG / LaMal) only covered mental health and treatment provided by psychiatrists.

But starting on July 1st, the cost of counselling offered by licensed psychologists will also be refunded, after agreement on hourly rates was reached between the association of psychologists and groups which determine medical rates.

READ MORE:  What isn’t covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

New rules for electronic voting: pilot tests

Cantons will again be able to carry out electronic voting trials from July 1st.

The Federal Council has set July 1st as the entry into force of the new rules.

Electronic voting has been in the trial phase since 2004. Fifteen cantons have already created the necessary legal bases and conducted more than 300 successful tests.

Electronic voting will  only be accessible to part of the population — 30 percent of the cantonal electorate and 10 percent of the Swiss electorate as a whole.

Installing solar panels will become easier

Some solar installations on facades, dams or noise barriers can more easily be built from July 1st, as the Federal Council removed prior administrative obstacles to these actions.. The granting of authorisations for these structures may be accelerated and the conditions relaxed.

It will therefore be easier to set up such installations on a dam lake in an alpine environment or on a less sensitive part of the territory. There will no longer be a need for authorisation to install solar panels on roofs.

Swiss vehicles to be equipped with black boxes

Black boxes will be mandatory for new types of passenger cars and vans from July 1st, after the entry into force of a UN regulation.

The new regulation aims to allow significant progress in gathering data on road accidents and vehicle safety, according to the UN Economic Commission for Europe.

Thanks to the new device, investigators will be able to reconstruct an accident from five seconds before and until the vehicle is immobilised.

Summer holidays begin

Depending on the canton, almost all schoolchildren in Switzerland will start their summer break between July 4th and 11th. You can find out the date in each canton here.

However, getting to and from your holiday destination by air may not be all that relaxing: airports in Switzerland and throughout Europe are expecting huge crowds and chaos as travel is picking up after two years of Covid restrictions.

There will also be delays and disruptions due to some previously scheduled flights being cancelled.

Which flights have SWISS airlines cut ahead of summer season?

Passengers are advised to contact their airline to find out if their flight is affected.

READ MORE: ‘‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Switzerland’s famous jazz and rock festivals

July is the month when two world-famous music festivals take place annually in Switzerland.

The first, Montreux Jazz, begins on July 1st and goes through July 16th in Montreux, an old town located in Vaud on the shores of Lake Geneva, where Freddy Mercury, frontman of Queen once lived and worked.

This year’s line-up includes stars like Diana Ross, Herbie Hancock, and John Legend, among others.

The second music event, the Paléo Festival in Nyon, also in canton Vaud, will take place (after missing 2020 and 2021due to Covid) from July 19th to 24th, and feature world-class perfprmers like Sting, KISS, and dozen others.

Tickets to both events are usually snapped up as soon as the go on sale, but they may still be some for sale. You can check the availability here for Montreux and Paléo.

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