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

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Switzerland (here Zurich) has been hit by arctic weather. Photo by Patrick Federi on Unsplash
Switzerland (here Zurich) has been hit by arctic weather. Photo by Patrick Federi on Unsplash

Praise for Switzerland’s new, shorter quarantine
The Federal Council’s announcement on Wednesday about its decision to cut the obligatory quarantine for anyone testing positive for Covid to five days met with mostly positive reactions from cantonal authorities and business circles.

The general belief is that a shorter confinement will prevent the economic collapse due to staff absences in critical sectors.
From the health perspective as well, “five days is reasonable”,  said Zurich epidemiologist Jan Fehr, who pointed out that the move “makes sense” in the current situation.
READ MORE: Switzerland to cut quarantine period for vaccinated and extend current measures

Brrr! Switzerland is hit by sub-zero temperatures
There is no doubt winter has finally made its appearance, with frigid temperatures in many regions of the country.
The lowest temperature so far —28.4 degrees below zero — is recorded in St. Gallen’s Toggenburg area, followed by La Brévine, canton Neuchâtel, at – 26.8.
Switzerland’s coldest city is Sion (VS) with -9.1 degrees and Basel (-4.8). Geneva, on the other hand, is relatively warm; 0 degrees was registered there on Wednesday.

The latest forecast calls for more cold weather.

 Swiss citizenship most desirable in the world, new study shows
Switzerland ranks in the first place a newly released World Citizenship Report (WCR), a survey by CS Global Partners that “examines which countries offer the most benefits for global citizens, particularly in a post-Covid world where those that have the means are consistently searching for greater opportunities and better protection”, according to Micha Emmett, the CEO of CS Global Partners.
Based on such criteria as safety and security, business environment, quality of life, travel, and financial freedom, Switzerland came ahead of Denmark, which is in second place, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden in joint third.

Switzerland in number 1. Image:World Citizenship Report (WCR)

READ MORE: The nine most surprising questions on Switzerland’s citizenship exam

“Masked” youngsters purchase alcohol and cigarettes
This should not really come as a surprise — more like ‘what did you expect’ kind of comment: compulsory mask makes it easier for young people to buy alcohol and tobacco, according to the undercover operation conducted by the Zurich  police in 2021.
In half the stores they visited, teens aged 14 to 17 have managed to buy alcohol or cigarettes, or both, as the required identity checks were not carried out by sales staff.
This marks a “significant increase compared to the pre-pandemic period”, police said, adding that the findings are in line with national figures.
Employees who illegally sold alcohol or cigarettes to young people were sanctioned. Store operators also risk administrative penalties, such as a temporary ban on the sale of alcohol or the withdrawal of the operator’s license.

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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For members


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

Swiss forest rangers fear thieves will target trees for firewood, flights to US and Canada back to pre-pandemic levels and other news from Switzerland on Thursday.

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

Swiss forests could be targeted by those looking to stock up on firewood

With Switzerland and other European nations threatened by a shortage of gas or electricity this winter those who have fireplaces have taken to stocking up on supplies fo firewood. 

The chairman of the Federal Electricity Commission, Werner Luginbühl, even recommended on Sunday that people should build up reserves in the event of a disaster scenario.

But as a result forest rangers fear many will take to the forests to illegally build up their supplies.

Neighbouring Germany has already seen people take to the forests to chop down trees for firewood, but so far Switzerland has been spared this kind of phenomenon.

But perhaps not for long.

Thomas Studer, director of a forestry operation in the canton of Solothurn told 20 Minutes: “Wood supplies are melting like snow in the sun.”

He fears there will be a rise in thefts in the coming weeks in the Swiss forests.

He said many walkers were already picking up branches that have fallen to the ground. He urged people to be responsible but warned that thieves would be punished because Swiss forests were not “self-service”.

“It’s theft and therefore punishable,” he said.

Airline tickets from Swiss to US and Canada reach pre-pandemic levels

Airline Edelweiss, a subsidiary of Swiss, has reported that its takings for July exceeded pre-pandemic levels, thanks in part to the renewed interest in flights from Switzerland to the US and Canada.

The carrier suggests it has seen “record” monthly figures for July thanks to the rebound in tourism and travel during the summer season.

In July, Edelweiss carried 304,039 passengers, up 3 percent compared to July 2019, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Flights to the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic were particularly popular.

Parent company Swiss returned to profit in the first half after two years of losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company is now aiming to return to operational profitability for the whole of 2022.

Swiss could represent Ukraine diplomatically in Russia

Ukraine has asked Switzerland to represent it diplomatically in Russia, Bern confirmed Wednesday, stressing though that
Moscow would need to accept the arrangement for it to go ahead, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Switzerland — renowned for its neutrality — has said it stood ready to provide diplomatic assistance and to serve as a go-between.

The foreign ministry said Wednesday that Ukraine had requested that Switzerland “assume a protecting power mandate” for Kyiv in Russia, confirming a story in the Luzerner Zeitung newspaper.

The foreign ministry explained that such protecting power mandates “allow states to maintain low-level relations and provide consular protection to nationals of the other state concerned”.

“The corresponding negotiations have been completed,” a ministry spokeswoman told AFP in an email.

Switzerland to impose stricter welfare rules for Ukrainian refugees

So far, refugees from Ukraine have received preferential treatment when it comes to social assistance applications, SRF reported. Unlike refugees admitted from other countries, wealthy Ukrainians have also been able to receive social assistance in Switzerland.

However, from now on, their assets in Ukraine will be taken into account during the applications, the report stated. This includes jewellery, cars, but also bank assets or properties in Ukraine.