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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Everything that changes in Switzerland in August 2021

From Covid to schools - and of course Swiss National Day - August 2021 has some changes in store in Switzerland.

Everything that changes in Switzerland in August 2021
A clock. Photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash

August 1st: Swiss National Day

This day marks what is nowadays viewed as the beginning of the Swiss confederation way back in 1291.

Fireworks displays are usually held across Switzerland, but these have been banned in several places.

In the capital of Bern, for instance, the fireworks display in the old town has been banned due to the pandemic, while the official celebration has also been cancelled

In Zug, an official party will be held but only for those who have a valid Covid certificate

READ MORE: What will Switzerland’s Covid-19 pass allow you to do?

The Federal Customs Administration (FCA) is warning the population against the importation of unauthorised fireworks.

“Anyone wishing to import fireworks must in principle obtain an import authorisation from the Federal Office of Police,”, FCA says in a press release.
 
Import of pyrotechnic devices of up to 2.5 kilograms per person is allowed without authorisation, as long as they are not prohibited in Switzerland.
 
However, the importation of fireworks exploding on the ground is not allowed. The importation of “Lady-Crackers” over 22 millimetres in length or over 3 millimetres in diameter is also prohibited.

Banned fireworks “will be sequestered on importation or if an import authorisation is lacking. Any infringement of the law will denounced to the public prosecutor”, FCA said.

Students head back to school

School start dates vary from canton to canton, but it is around the third week of August.

Health experts warn that this year the rate of infections will increase among the 12 to 15-year-olds after summer vacations.

“When you start school again, the risk of being infected is probably going to be very high”, according to Pierre-Alex Crisinel, doctor in the paediatric and vaccinology unit of the Vaud Cantonal Hospital (CHUV).

He attributed this spike to the Delta variant, which is highly contagious not only for adults but for adolescents as well.

What this means is that “the probability of escaping the infection when returning to school is declining”.

“This should be an incentive to get vaccinated this summer”, he added.

Switzerland started vaccinating this age group in June.

Third phase of ending Covid restrictions

The end of the final phase of the government’s strategy to lift the remaining coronavirus measures is scheduled for August.

This phase will begin when all those who want to get vaccinated are fully immunised.

At this time, “social and economic restrictions will no longer be justified. The remaining measures will be gradually lifted”, including the mask requirement.

The Federal Council emphasised, however, that this phase-out can be implemented only if the epidemiological situation allows it. In order for that to happen, “it is essential that as many people as possible get vaccinated”.

“If, despite everything, the pandemic were to strengthen and threaten to overload the health system, the Federal Council reserves the right to maintain or reintroduce certain measures for a certain time, such as the obligation to wear a mask, the respect of distances and the limitation of capacities”, the government added.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Switzerland’s three-phase plan for ending Covid-19 restrictions?

Covid certificate

Unlike most of Switzerland’s neighbours, the Swiss Covid certificate is not required in many places. 

Switzerland’s Covid certificate proves vaccination, recovery from the virus or a negative test. 

While in Austria, France and some parts of Italy and Germany a Covid certificate is needed to visit a restaurant or a bar, in Switzerland this is only needed in order to access large events or fun disco parties (over 1,000 people). 

EXPLAINED: How do tourists get Switzerland’s Covid certificate to access events, clubs and restaurants?

However with infections rising and vaccination rates slowing, the Swiss government has indicated it may expand the areas where the certificate is required to include bars and restaurants, as well as smaller events. 

While early government predictions estimated that “full vaccination of the adult population (two doses) will be completed by the end of July 2021”, this benchmark has not been reached.

As of July 27th, just over 47 percent of Switzerland’s residents have received both shots — well below the 60-percent minimum set by the Federal Council.

And the overall pace of vaccinations has slowed down considerably in the past weeks as many people left for summer holidays.

Some have suggested going further to make vaccinations compulsory for employees in some industries, however this does not have widespread support. 

READ MORE: Switzerland considers Covid certificates for restaurants as vaccination rates slow

Summer’s glorious farewell

Although it’s hard to predict given climate change-induced wacky weather, August tends to bring with it the last warm days in Switzerland before the autumn chill of September kicks in. 

The average weather for Switzerland in August is just above 15C, with some regional variations. 

In Zurich, temperatures can reach 24C (low of 15C), with 11 days of rain on average in August. 

It’s slightly warmer in Geneva 26C, with a low of 13C and only eight days of rain. 

Basel averages between 15C and 25C, with nine days of rain. 

Statistik: Durchschnittliche Temperatur in der Schweiz von Juni 2020 bis Juni 2021 | Statista
Mehr Statistiken finden Sie bei Statista

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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Zurich.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

If you’ve bought a new piece of furniture in Zurich or a mattress, you may be faced with the problem of what to do with the old one. 

This is particularly the case in cities like Zurich, where space is at a premium and you may not be able to kit out your spare room with the old furniture. 

While there are waste disposal centres, even getting there without a car can be a problem. 

One man’s trash…

First things first, think about whether you really need to get rid of the thing in question. 

While you may not want it, there may be someone out there willing to take it off your hands – particularly if you aren’t going to charge them. 

The first point of call is to ask your friends and colleagues if they’re interested, with social media the perfect place to ask around. 

If you live in an apartment complex, you might try placing the item in a common area with a note saying “zu verschenken” (to give away) or ‘gratis’ (free). 

After that, there are several online options like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Free Your Stuff Zurich, Ricardo, Anibis, Craig’s List and Tutti. 

Some of these sites will charge a fee – even if you’re giving something away – so be sure to read the fine print first. 

Another option is to donate the goods to a charity organisation. They will usually charge you money to pick it up and prices can vary dramatically. 

Caritas charge CHF35 per 100kg plus transport costs, while Sozialwerk Pfarrer Sieber will pick up small items of furniture for a flat fee, although you’ll need to send them pictures first before they give you a quote. 

Can I put old furniture on the street in Zurich? 

Although less common than many other European cities, occasionally you will see furniture out on the street in front of homes and apartment blocks in Zurich. 

While it might clutter up the sidewalk, it is technically not illegal – provided you only do so for a maximum of 24 hours. 

You also need to make sure it doesn’t block cars, bikes or pedestrians. If it does – or if you leave it out for longer – you risk a fine.

Entsorgungstram: Zurich’s recycling and waste disposal tram

One option is the Entsorgungstram, a mobile recycling centre on rails for all Zurich residents. 

This tram weaves its way through several parts of Zurich, picking up old bulky waste including electrical devices and furniture. 

If you are lucky to live near an Entsorgungstram line, just check the timetable and bring your waste items along to meet the tram. 

There are some rules, as laid out by the Zurich council. 

“The delivered items must not be longer than 2.5 meters (exception: sofa/upholstered furniture can be no longer than 2 meters) and no heavier than 40 kilograms per item. Separate the material beforehand according to its composition: flammable, large metal and landfill”. 

Unfortunately, only pedestrians and cyclists can use this service, i.e. you cannot drive from elsewhere and deposit the stuff. 

More information including route details can be found at the following link. 

Regular waste disposal

Your next option is to see whether you can get rid of it in your usual waste disposal. 

This being Switzerland, there are a lot of rules about what the waste management company will take and will not. 

If you’re throwing away a mirror, for instance, you cannot put that with your other glass waste and will need to dispose of it elsewhere. 

On the other hand, they may take things like carpets and mattresses – although you’ll need to pay a bit extra. 

The exact rules will depend on your municipality, but generally speaking you will need to buy additional waste stickers – which cost money. 

In Zurich itself, every household receives four coupons for disposal of waste (up to 100kg) each. 

When you run out of coupons, you’ll need to pay by the kilo. 

You’ll still need to bring it to the waste disposal facility, or pay a pick up fee of around CHF80. 

This may sound steep, but they do come to your home and pick it up – which will likely be cheaper than a rental car or van. 

In Winterthur, you will need to buy stickers for CHF1.80 from the council, with each sticker letting you dispose of 10kg of waste. 

Check with the retailer where you bought the new item

One option offered by furniture sellers is to buy your old furniture or whitegoods or accept them as a trade in. 

While this is likely to be more common with second hand retailers who might see potential in your unwanted item, it is also a service offered by retailers who only sell new goods. 

One example is Ikea, who will take your old mattress, furniture or electronic device and recycle it. 

This service is available at Ikea outlets for a cost of CHF10 each. 

It is also available when you get something new delivered, although you must pre-book so the driver can be sure to set aside enough space. 

This will cost you CHF80 for furniture, or CHF50 for electronic devices and mattresses. Keep in mind that (at least with Ikea) this service is only available when you buy something new. 

Several other furniture companies offer a similar service, including Schubiger Möbel, Möbel Pfister and Conforama.  

Electrical item retails will often take your old electrical goods for recycling, whether these are small like iPhones or large like fridges and washing machines. 

More information about which goods can be recycled and how in Switzerland is available at the following link. 

Moving companies

Removalist companies are another option – whether you are moving house or not. 

If you are moving house then a disposal service may be included in the overall fees. 

If not, you can still contact the company and get the item taken off your hands. 

While different companies will charge different amounts, you’ll usually pay per 100kg rather than per item, which can be a better (or worse) option than contacting the local council. 

Swiss comparison site Comparis has detailed info about how to find a moving company here

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