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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

Heating with wood to become more expensive, redacted vaccine contracts, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Thursday.

firewood energy crisis supply gas heat
Firewood is in high demand in Switzerland (Photo by david lindahl on Unsplash)

Heating with wood is starkly more expensive

It’s not only the prices for fossil fuels, oil and gas that have risen sharply in Switzerland. Even those who rely on alternative energies such as wood as a fuel currently have to dig deeper into their wallets, SRF reported.

The pellets made from pressed sawdust are 46 percent more expensive than a year ago. “In general, we can summarise that the increase is due to higher production costs,” said Peter Lehmann, President of the “proPellets” Association. In addition to processing, wood is also more expensive.

Last year, almost 50 percent more pellet-based heating systems were built than in 2020, which has increased the demand for pellets. However, Lehmann assumes that the price will not decrease in the medium term; wood as a raw material is too much in demand in the current situation.

READ ALSO: Five of the biggest challenges facing Switzerland right now

Swiss government publishes redacted vaccine contracts

After a long period of resistance, the Swiss government disclosed the vaccine purchase contracts. Before that, however, it had redacted them out extensively, Watson reported.

The authorities have kept it a secret even the duration of secrecy, so the Swiss won’t know how long it will take until they can see the complete contracts. The lack of transparency has brought on criticism against the government.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why vaccinations are not mandatory in Switzerland

Almost 10 percent of Ukrainian refugees have found jobs in Switzerland

A total of 9.4 percent of adults possessing a special “S” permit are working, with most employed in the restaurant sector, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said.

Nearly a quarter of them (23 percent) are active in the restaurant industry. In addition, 17 percent work in the “planning, consulting, IT” sector. Agriculture and education each account for 8 percent of those with the S status.

There are currently 61 424 status S applications in Switzerland, of which 59 411 persons have been granted S status, SEM said.

READ ALSO: 200,000 in 2022: Immigration fuelling Swiss population surge

Federal Council wants to decide on sanction policy in August

Switzerland’s Federal Council wants to discuss whether or not to adopt the so-called “thematic” sanctions of the European Union, Tagesanzeiger said.

These sanctions work differently than those imposed on a specific country. Instead, they allow measures to be taken against individuals, companies and organisations from different countries that violate certain rights. They are primarily concerned about violations regarding chemical weapons, cyber and human rights.

Specifically, in March 2021, the EU decided to sanction some persons, organisations and institutions from North Korea, Libya, Eritrea, South Sudan, Russia and China for serious human rights violations.

The controversial decision could lead to Switzerland sanctioning China, with Minister of Economic Affairs Guy Parmelin against adopting the measures.

READ ALSO: Switzerland bans imports of Russian gold

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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

Health insurance premiums to rise, authorities could ban electric heaters, recession worries ease and more news from Switzerland on Monday.

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

Unemployment remains at 2 percent in Switzerland

In Switzerland, unemployment remains at a very low level, Watson news site reported. At 2 percent, the unemployment rate is as low as over twenty years ago.

At the end of July, 91,474 people were registered as unemployed at the Regional Employment Centers (RAV). This is 1,037 less than in June and 36,805 less than a year ago, as the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) announced Monday.

Last month, fewer people in Switzerland were looking for a job. According to Seco, the number of job seekers continued to decline by 5,629 compared to June to 163,315. A year ago, almost 220,000 job seekers were registered with the RAV.

READ ALSO: When is best to look for a job in Switzerland?

Health insurance premiums to rise in 2023

Health insurance premiums are set to rise by almost 10 percent in some cantons, with the highest increases in Ticino, Neuchâtel, and Graubünden, the new site NZZ writes.

According to an Accenture study, the prices need to “catch up” to higher costs in the health care system. But the corona pandemic and various special effects would also have contributed to the current situation.

READ ALSO: How is the Swiss healthcare system different from the rest of Europe?

Authorities threaten to ban electric heaters

The Federal Office for Economic State Supply (BWL) fears that there may be a lack of electricity in an already tight power supply due to many additional mobile electric heaters over the winter, Tagesanzeiger reports. “In this context, the use of electrical appliances could be restricted or prohibited,” says business administration spokeswoman Evelyne Kobelt.

The basis for the ban or a restriction would be the State Supply Act, which provides for such restrictive measures in the event of a severe power shortage.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why you should hold off on buying electric heaters in Switzerland

No recession for Switzerland, forecasters say

Switzerland does not expect to dip into recession this year despite the threat of an energy supply squeeze, the government’s chief economist said Sunday.

The Swiss economy is “doing well” despite the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy prices, Eric Scheidegger told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

He said it was down to companies to steel themselves for the possibility of power shortages in the winter months.

“We may have to revise our economic forecast downwards for next year. The revised forecast will be published on September 20. However, we do not expect a recession for this year,” Scheidegger said.

“We run the risk of an energy supply bottleneck in winter. If there are persistent production interruptions in the EU and we ourselves have a gas shortage, it becomes problematic.

Sperm banks are preparing for increased demand

Sperm banks in Switzerland are getting ready for higher demand after same-sex marriage was approved in the country and artificial insemination is allowed for lesbian married couples.

Since July, with the entry into force of marriage for all, female couples have had access to artificial insemination. And already, Swiss sperm banks have waiting lists, reports the SonntagsZeitung.

Among them is the “OVA IVF Clinic” in Zurich, which can’t offer new appointments for the first consultations until next December. However, its director, Peter Fehr, believes this influx should stabilise after the initial peak. His clinic should then help 30 to 50 lesbian couples become mothers each year.

READ ALSO: ‘Deviance and morality’: The history of the same-sex marriage movement in Switzerland

Sunny and hot in Switzerland this Monday

The weather should be sunny and hot today in Switzerland, according to the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss.

Temperatures will be between 16C and 29C in Geneva, 15C and 32C in Sion, 14C and 27C in Bern, 14C and 30C in Basel, 16C and 27C in Zurich, 17C and 27C in Chur, and 16C and 30C in Lugano.

READ ALSO: Body stress, drought and borders: How the heatwave affects Switzerland

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