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Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Friday

Rents for mountain housing in Switzerland are going up. Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash
Rents for mountain housing in Switzerland are going up. Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Calls for a five-day quarantine continue

As more than 100,000 people in Switzerland are in either isolation or preventive quarantine, there are more calls to shorten the duration of their in-home confinement.

Economiesuisse, the umbrella organisation for businesses, is urging the government to reduce the isolation of sick people who have no symptoms by half, namely from 10 to five days.

Other business groups are also arguing that Switzerland’s economy can’t function if half of the workforce is absent.

Health experts, however, urge caution. Epidemiologist Olivia Keizer from the University of Geneva, is skeptical due to the lack of scientific data on the matter. “I have not seen any study so far that would argue in favor of a reduction to five days”, she said.

Cantons have already cut the duration of quarantines for contact cases to seven days, though infected people must remain in isolation for the full 10 days.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Most Swiss cantons shorten their quarantine requirements

Antigen tests may not detect Omicron virus

Health authorities are concerned that antigen tests are not sensitive enough to detect Omicron, leading to ‘false negative’ results. It is not uncommon for PCR screening to contradict the results of rapid tests.

Patrick Mathys, head of the crisis management section at the Federal Office of Public Health confirmed that rapid antigenic tests “seem to have sensitivity problems” in recognising Omicron.

“This needs to be looked at closely internationally. We can then decide how to use these tests in the future”, he said.

Rents surge in mountain regions

Alpine areas recorded a significant increase in rents last year, above the Swiss average, according to the rent index published by the real estate portal Homegate.ch and Zurich Cantonal Bank.

While at the national level rents increased by 1 percent, several mountain cantons recorded higher prices. In Graubünden, rents jumped by 4.7 percent, in Uri by 2.7 percent, and in Nidwalden by 2.5 percent.

The increase in the German-speaking mountain cantons has been driven by the health situation. “Foreign destinations have lost their appeal over the past two years due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, and teleworking obligation has also contributed to this trend, the study found.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: The hidden costs of renting in Switzerland

Swiss Uber drivers deemed to be employees

The debate over whether Uber drivers are self-employed has been ongoing in various countries, including Switerland.

Now the social insurance court in Zurich has ruled that they are employees of Uber, meaning the multinational company must pay social contributions for them, just as all employers in Switzerland do for their workers.

Uber, which has claimed that drivers are self-employed contractors and therefore not entitled to social contributions or vacation compensation, has announced that it will appeal the ruling.

This verdict affects about 3,200 Uber drivers in nine Swiss cities.

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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