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

Swiss lakes and rivers drying up, house prices climbing, and other news from Switzerland in The Local's short roundup.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Alarm systems on some Swiss elevators are not adapted to 5G networks. Photo by Russ Ward on Unsplash

Drought: Swiss lakes and rivers don’t have enough water

The water levels of Lakes Constance, Walen, Lucerne and Lugano have reached historic lows, according to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

Continued drought has also impacted some rivers, whose levels are “strongly to moderately” below average for the season, FOEN said.

The level of the Rhine and the Reuss, for instance, is “among the lowest ever recorded during the summer months”, while the Aare and the Limmat show low levels only observed “every two to five years”.

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

Swiss operators to phase out 2G cellular networks

The second-generation mobile networks have become obsolete with the introduction of the much faster 4G and 5G broadbands, and Switzerland will deactivate the old system at the beginning of 2023.

However, while most people already own devices that support 4G and 5G standards, some will be affected by the change.

The reason is that some emergency call systems, such as those installed on older elevators, will no longer work.

The same holds true for some navigation systems (GPS), which use the 2G and are not yet adapted to newer technologies.

The media reports that although some elevator and GPS manufacturers are not happy about the change, both Swisscom and Sunrise said they informed the affected industries “early enough” of the planned 2G shutdown.

Property prices continue to rise despite higher interest rates

The average purchase price for single-family homes in Switzerland went up by 5.6 percent in the first six months of this year, and the cost of apartments rose by 3.2 percent, according to a new survey by mortgage broker Moneypark and the Zurich-based startup Pricehubble, which specialises in real estate data.

Along with mounting real estate prices, fixed-rate mortgage rates have also been climbing.

As a result of these developments, “many mortgage holders have opted for offers with shorter maturities», the survey found.  

“In particular, mortgages with maturities of more than 10 years were less in demand”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why not paying off your mortgage in Switzerland can save you money

Roche launches new diagnostic test for Covid

The Swiss drug manufacturer has developed a new test that should allow better understanding of coronavirus infections.

Specifically, the product, called Elecsys IGRA, should shed light on immune responses to the virus and vaccinations, Roche said in a press release.

“This in turn may help understand and identify those at higher risk of progressing to severe disease during an existing or future infection. This is particularly important in immunocompromised and high-risk patient groups.The test results can help healthcare professionals to provide them with long-term guidance like appropriate treatment”, the company added.

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: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

The financing of the pension scheme is safe, no 'free' money will be distributed in Zurich, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Monday.

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

Swiss voters back pension scheme reform

A narrow majority of voters – 50.57 percent — approved on Sunday the government’s proposed amendment to the existing old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV / AVS), including increasing the retirement age for women from the current 64 to 65, same as for men.

This move  is seen as necessary to keep the AHV / AVS scheme afloat financially as life expectancy in Switzerland is increasing and people require pension benefits longer than in the past.

And 55.1 percent accepted a related proposal to raise the current Value Added Tax of 7.7 percent by 0.4 percent to help finance the scheme.

READ MORE: What impact could Switzerland’s referendum on pensions have on you?

Zurich’s basic income experiment rejected

Also on Sunday, 53.9 percent of Zurich voters turned down a proposal by the political left to introduce a pilot project that would dole out between 2,500 and 3,000 francs a month to 500 city residents.

The issue, which previously failed in other cities, was thought to have a bigger chance of success in Zurich, which is believed to be more “left” than other Swiss municipalities.

However, only two of Zurich’s 12 districts voted in favour of the project on Sunday.

READ MORE: ‘3,000 francs a month?’: Zurich to vote on trying universal basic income

Switzerland not prepared for nuclear attack

As fears over the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine is growing, Switzerland “is not sufficiently prepared,” for such an event, according to Urs Marti, president of the Conference of Cantonal Officials for Military Affairs and Civil Protection.

For instance, the radioactivity alarm equipment is old, and some nuclear shelters have not been properly upkept, Marti said.   

In response, the National Council’s Security Policy Commission is set to hold a special meeting to discuss ways to remedy the situation.

“We must take stock of the state of civil protection shelters,” said the Commission’s  president, Mauro Tuena.

READ MORE: Reader question: Where is my nearest nuclear shelter in Switzerland?

These Swiss cities are most dependent on imported gas

With the beginning of autumn and colder weather across Switzerland, the subject of Switzerland’s reliance on foreign energy is in the news again.

But the extent of this dependence varies from one municipality to another.

At 96 percent of imported energy, Geneva tops the chart, followed by Lugano (94 percent), Lucerne and Biel (91), Winterthur (87), Bern (83), Zurich (76), and Basel (75).

The reason big cities rely more on gas is that in densely populated areas, this energy source requires relatively little space in buildings.

REVEALED: Switzerland’s best cheese is…

 The Swiss Cheese Championships held in the Valais community of Val de Bagnes last week have come to an end.

Out of more than 1,000 cheese varieties vying for the coveted title, the international jury selected a Gruyère from the village of Montbovon in the canton of Fribourg.

The jury tasted each single cheese, basing its decision on criteria such as cheese’s appearance, taste, aroma, and texture

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]