6 things expats in Switzerland need to know about in May 2022
As April comes to a close, Switzerland will be moving into a new month of votes, celebrations and rising prices. Here are six things expats and internationals need to know about in May 2022.
1. Switzerland to vote on Lex Netflix, organ donation and Frontex
For the second time this year, Swiss citizens will get the opportunity to vote on significant national issues. On May 15, national, cantonal and local referendums will go ahead, deciding policy from taxation to transport.
On the national level, Switzerland will vote on the expansion of Frontex, a change from consent to objection in how organ donations are made and whether streaming services like Netflix should subsidise Swiss-made TV and films. While each proposal has the support of the government, all three issues have divided Swiss political parties.
2. All COVID related travel restrictions to be phased out May 2
From May 2, the last COVID travel restrictions to Switzerland will be scrapped. It comes weeks after all federal COVID measures were phased out and replaced with cantonal rules.
Despite the relaxation of COVID rules, Switzerland still keeps a list of “at-risk” nations - countries mostly outside of the EU and Schengen. Only those with a right to stay in Switzerland, like citizens and holders of residence permits, and those who had proof of vaccination or recovery, were permitted to travel to Switzerland from these countries.
The rule change will mean that people from at-risk countries will be allowed to come to Switzerland, regardless of vaccination status. Regular requirements for visas will be reinstated, and people from at-risk countries are now encouraged to visit the State Secretariat for Migration’s website for more information on how to enter.
3. Price rises and the Swiss government’s emergency plan for energy
As the war in Ukraine continues, industry bodies have warned that price rises will continue in the alpine nation. While Switzerland is not as badly affected as other countries, the Swiss Trade Union Federation has warned that families in Switzerland could lose up to 3.000 Swiss francs a year to rising prices.
Industrial associations have noted that supply issues related to the war and COVID are soon to hit Switzerland. While dependent on the course of the war, experts believe that the next 31 days will see prices continue to rise on anything from beer to croissants.
The next month will also see the government’s emergency energy plan take shape. Due to be presented before the next parliamentary session in June, the plan hopes to guarantee the supply of energy in Switzerland by providing financial incentives for power companies.
4. May and Labour day celebrations
At the start of the month, 11 Swiss cantons will be celebrating May Day or Labour Day. Typically, Labour Day is taken as an opportunity by unions, politicians and social activists to rally and march for the rights of workers and to advocate for increased salaries.
2022 will mark the first Labour Day in two years to not be hampered by COVID restrictions and capacity limits on events. Unfortunately, those hoping for a day off this year will be disappointed, as May 1 is on Sunday and Swiss cantons do not carry over holidays, much to the dismay of the unions.
5. Start of cycling season in Switzerland
After a cautious start, cycling season has gotten into full swing. The rising temperatures and clearer skies have encouraged people to use the extensive cycle network available in Switzerland to travel around the country.
The number of recreational cyclists in Switzerland increased significantly during the pandemic, and the pastime is expected to keep its popularity as people sample the best cycle routes in Switzerland, perhaps for the first time.
6. Summer weather… hopefully
Finally, in more of a request than a prediction, it is hoped that May 2022 will see good weather in Switzerland. Despite a warning from the Böögg, which took over 28 minutes to burn in this year's Sechseläuten, signalling a bad summer ahead, meteorologists are hoping the unseasonably hot weather will continue.