Your Daily Scan of the New Global Economy


Intel Switzerland

  • Pandemic pushes more Swiss businesses to short-time working

    In order to avoid mass lay-offs, Swiss companies are resorting to a measure that has proved its worth in times of crisis: short-time working. What is it? Hotel and catering, transport, manufacturing, tourism – a variety of sectors are being hit hard by the pandemic owing to the closure of public institutions and non-essential businesses, but also border closures and restrictions on people’s movement. Swiss companies are seeing an alarming drop in revenue and are increasingly resorting to short-time working to avoid redundancies.  What is short-time working?  In Switzerland, when a company finds itself in difficulty, it can temporarily reduce the working hours of its staff. The employees then work at a lower percentage and the employer pays a lower salary which is supplemented by unemployment insurance.  The employees are compensated with 80% of the loss of income. So if the company reduces the activity rate from 100% (full-time) to 50%, the company pays this 50% and the …


  • Pressure growing for confinement exit strategy

    Pressure to gradually reopen the economy is increasing, but Swiss health minister Alain Berset has told a Sunday newspaper a rapid end to coronavirus restrictions is not realistic.  In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung, Berset warned that if public adherence to the restrictions over Easter fell, the government might even tighten them and impose a curfew.  He said the government would discuss on Wednesday scenarios for ending confinement but a decision was not yet expected. “It is only when the number of infected people and admissions to hospital are clearly falling that we will be able to consider softening the rules,” he told the paper.  However, there is growing pressure to gradually reopen the economy. In an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, Petra Gössi, head of the centre-right Radical Liberal Party, calls for the reopening of all shops that can comply with government safety measures, i.e. two-metre distancing between all persons in the shop and all hygiene …


  • Stay-at-home Swiss abide by coronavirus measures

    Visits to Swiss restaurants, shopping centres or museums plummeted by 81% in March, according to location data from users’ phones collected by Google.  Google’s analysis of billions of phones in 131 countries is the largest public dataset available to help health authorities assess whether people are obeying shelter-in-place and similar orders issued across the world to rein in the spread of Covid-19.   Its reports show charts that compare traffic from February 16 to March 29. These are broken down into segments such as restaurants, shopping centres and museums, retailers and chemists, parks, train stations, and workplaces and residential areas.  In Switzerland, in addition to visits in the restaurant, retail and leisure sectors, activity declined in all areas except residential areas. The food stores and chemists that were still open were 51% less frequented.  There were 41% fewer people strolling along rivers and in parks, 68% fewer on public transport and 46% fewer at work.


  • Swiss hospitals reportedly running out of money

    Cash-strapped Swiss hospitals, in the front line of the fight against coronavirus, are calling for financial help and an end to the ban on non-emergency procedures which has sapped revenue, reports the SonntagsZeitung newspaper. It quotes the director of Valais Hospital Hugo Burgener as saying “we need liquidity to pay salaries”, and writes that the Graubünden cantonal hospital will also have to raise an additional CHF20 million ($20 million) in the next few days. Other clinics with empty coffers are reporting to the H+ Swiss Hospitals association, to which 220 Swiss hospitals are affiliated, according to the paper. The federal government’s ban on scheduled non-emergency procedures during the crisis has led to “considerable losses in earnings, which in turn have an impact on liquidity,” says H+ spokeswoman Dorit Djelid. “We are clarifying with the Federal Office of Public Health whether a gradual relaxation can be envisaged,” she told the paper, which says this is likely to …


  • Too early to relax coronavirus measures, says top health official

    The peak of coronavirus infections has not yet been reached in Switzerland and it is far too early to relax restrictions, says top public health official Daniel Koch. Meanwhile nearly a quarter of the population is on short time work. Koch, who is head of communicable diseases at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), reminded people at a press conference on Saturday that the government measures were aimed at flattening the curve of infections and protecting vulnerable groups, notably people over 65 and/ or with existing health problems. “These are the people who put a strain on our hospitals and the health system and who have to fear for their lives,” said Koch. He stressed that it is “everyone’s responsibility” to protect the vulnerable”, urging people to “stay home” this weekend and only go out “alone for a short walk” or exercise in the garden. The number of Covid-19 infections detected in Switzerland has now climbed to some 20,000, while the number of deaths is over 600.


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