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

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

Verifying Covid certificates is becoming more secure. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP
Verifying Covid certificates is becoming more secure. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Cantons react to federal Covid measures

Cantonal authorities had until January 17th to respond to proposals made by the Federal Council last week to tighten certain existing coronavirus rules, including the extension of their validity until March 31st and reduction of the Covid certificate validity from 365 to 270 days, to be in line with the EU rules.

All but four cantons (Graubünden, Lucerne, Obwalden and Solothurn) want the measures to stay in place only until February 28th, at which time a decision could be made on whether to extend them further.

For the Covid certificate, Graubünden officials are the only ones against shortening its validity, while all the other cantons are in favour of this move.

The Federal Council will announce its decision on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Switzerland to cut quarantine period for vaccinated and extend current measures

Should Switzerland emulate Spain in managing the pandemic?

After Spain has proclaimed it wants to stop counting daily infection rates and instead treat Covid the same way as a seasonal flu, with selective surveillance, some Swiss experts said they support this approach.

Valérie D’Acremont, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Lausanne, believes Switzerland should follow the Spanish strategy and adopt the same monitoring system as it already has in place for counting flu cases.

She added that introduction of a simper strategy “often requires more political courage than strengthening it.”

This new approach would signal the transition from a pandemic mode to an endemic one, meaning the disease is commonly found among the population and its evolution has become predictable.

Health Minister Alain Berset has recently mentioned this transition “from a pandemic to an endemic phase with high levels of immunity already reached” in Switzerland.

Verification of Covid certificates is now more secure

It has been common for waiters or other personnel to press the ‘refresh’ button on their customers’ mobile phones to verify their Covid certificate. This action, however, was believed to facilitate data theft

This function is now corrected, with certificate verifications done only through Check, which is a separate application. In the latest update of the certificate app, it says: “The ‘refresh’ button has been removed” and “Verification of Covid certificates must be done through the ‘Covid’ app Certificate Check'”.

The modification has already been automatically installed on most  iPhones in Switzerland.  Users with Android phones, however, still have the “Refresh” button, but their app should be updated soon.

READ MORE: Reader question: Which information do staff see when scanning my Swiss Covid certificate?

A “special coronavirus” timetable for public transport in Geneva

Geneva’s public transport system (TPG) is suffering from a recurring shortage of staff due to quarantines. Faced with this situation, the company has decided to set up a reduced ‘Covid schedule’, which will affect the tram and trolleybus networks throughout the canton.

This measure will start on January 24th and will stay in effect until February 11th.

For example, trams will run every six minutes on line 12 instead of the usual 5-minute intervals. And bus line 3 will offer fewer trips between 7 am and 9 am.

You can see which other lines will be affected here.

TPG said the timetable will be modified only slightly, guaranteeing adherence to  “more than 95 percent” of its regular schedule.

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 Wednesday

Another case of monkeypox found in Switzerland, Covid boosters could no longer be free, and other Swiss news in our daily roundup.

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

Second case of monkeypox found in Switzerland

The virus was detected in a person in Geneva, who was contaminated “during a trip abroad”, the canton’s Health Department has confirmed.

It added that the infected person “is currently in isolation, his general condition is good and does not currently require hospitalisation”.

Contact tracing is underway to find people who have been exposed to the sick person, the canton said.

This is the second known case of monkeypox in Switzerland, following the one detected in Bern on Saturday in a person who also contracted the virus while travelling abroad.

Globally, about 90 cases have been detected so far.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is monkeypox and what is Switzerland doing about it?

Health authorities: Travellers should pay for Covid boosters themselves

According to newest recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), people travelling abroad who need second booster doses must pay for the shots themselves.

As the fourth vaccine dose is currently recommended only for people with a severely weakened immune system, everyone outside of this group will be charged as yet undefined fee.

Until now, all the Covid vaccinations had been free of charge.

The proposal was sent to the cantons for consultation until June 1st. If agreed on, the Federal Council will adjust the Epidemics Ordinance accordingly on June 10th.

Additional trains in service over the  Ascension and Pentcoast weekends

Road traffic is typically very heavy during the two holiday weekends, falling this year on May 26th – 29th and  June  4th – 6th, respectively.

For travellers who prefer to take the train during this busy period, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), is “significantly expanding” its service towards Ticino, one of the most popular destinations for public holiday weekends.

“There will be numerous additional trains. We will also be increasing the number of seats available on regular trains”, including between Zurich/Basel and Ticino via the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the company announced.

Switzerland and NATO want ‘closer ties’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reassured Swiss Defense Minister Viola Amherd on Tuesday that the military alliance would maintain a strong partnership with Switzerland.

He said he is “open to closer ties”— a message that “was very important because I want a close collaboration” too, Amherd responded.

Even though some Swiss politicians are pushing for a greater degree of NATO integration due to uncertainties related to war in Ukraine, Switzerland cannot become a member because of its longstanding policy of neutrality.

Switzerland has nevertheless a relationship with the organisation through its Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, and also participates in military exercises with NATO related to cyberattacks.

“We are studying the question” of how Switzerland can further its collaboration with NATO without compromising its neutrality, Amherd said.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why isn’t Switzerland in NATO

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]