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Everything that changes in Switzerland in August 2022

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
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

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

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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. 

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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

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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. 

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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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