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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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.

A drone shot shows the Roman arena excavation site in Kaiseraugst. Photo: Kantonsarchäologie Aargau; Kanton Aargau
A drone shot shows the Roman arena excavation site in Kaiseraugst. Photo: Kantonsarchäologie Aargau; Kanton Aargau

Switzerland to revise social assistance and integration requirements for non-Europeans

Third-country nationals are significantly more at risk of becoming dependent on social assistance than the Swiss or citizens of EU or EFTA states, the government said.

To counter this trend, the Federal Council is planning to introduce a series of measures to increase employment in this target group and to contain the increase in social assistance spending by cantons and municipalities.

At the same time, federal authorities also want to include an additional integration criterion in the Federal Law on Foreigners, focusing not only on the primary job / residence seeker, but his entire family as well.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How applying for social benefits could see your Swiss work permit cancelled

Tenants could see their rents increase

Cantons are considering introducing an obligation to install solar panels when renovating roofs or facades of buildings. As a result, apartments and houses could become more expensive to rent.

The federal government already ruled that by year 2050, most of Switzerland’s energy should be solar, which means installations capable of producing 1,000 megawatts of power should be put into place by the deadline. To speed up the process, Swissolar, the  association of solar energy professionals, is seeking a mandate to oblige owners to install solar panels on all roof and facade surfaces during renovations.

Solar panels could become mandatory during building renovations. Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.

Covid certificate opponents in Switzerland come from political left and right

Opponents of the certificate obligation can be found on both sides of the political spectrum, ranging from supporters of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) to environmentalists, according to a new study by the Swiss Centre of Competence in Social Sciences (FORS).

FORS researchers also made the link between sympathisers of the European Union and defenders of the Covid certificate.

“We know that questions of European policy and immigration have a very strong impact on Swiss politics and on voting preferences”, study-co-author Line Rennwald said in an interview  with RTS public broadcaster.

“We see that there is a fairly clear correlation between the support for further European integration of Switzerland and support for the Covid certificate”.

READ MORE: Should Switzerland abolish the Covid certificate?

Ruins of a Roman-era amphitheater unearthed in Switzerland

Archaeologists working in Kaiseraugst, canton Aargau, have uncovered the remains of what is believed to be the last gladiator arena built before the Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD.

The oval-shaped amphitheater was constructed of stone blocks and mortar in an abandoned quarry that had been in use until late antiquity, according to Jakob Baerlocher, head of excavations at the site.

Spectators gathered there to watch and cheer on bloody gladiator flights and animal hunts.    

Kaiseraugust, named after the ancient Roman city of Augusta Raurica, is the most important Roman excavation site in Switzerland.

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

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]

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