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Swiss Citizens Could Face Jail for ‘Overheating’ Their Homes by Robert Semonsen

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Swiss Citizens Could Face Jail for ‘Overheating’ Their Homes

Under new energy-saving measures, which could be imposed on Swiss citizens this winter in the event of gas shortages, those who ‘overheat’ their homes could face daily fines of up to 3,000 Swiss Francs (3,100 euros) and up to three years in prison.

If adopted by the Federal Council, the executive body of the Swiss federal government, in the event of a gas bottleneck, citizens will be prohibited from heating their homes and water to no more than 19°C and 60°C, respectively. Heating swimming pools, using saunas, portable electric heaters, and warm air tents will also become unlawful if the measures are applied, the daily Swiss German-language newspaper Blick reports.

“Violations of the state supply law are always misdemeanors or even crimes in some cases and are to be prosecuted by the cantons ex officio,” Markus Spörndli, the spokesman for the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research explained to the newspaper.

Spörndli added that fines leveled against those found to be in violation of the measures will range between 30 to 3,000 Swiss Francs per day, depending on the nature of the offense and the economic circumstances of the perpetrator.  

Instead of carrying out mass surveillance and sweeping controls to enforce the ordinance, the government says random checks will be used.

While speaking at a press conference at the Federal Council on Wednesday, Economics Minister Guy Parmelin of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) said: “We are not a police state. The police will not go to everyone—but there can be spot checks.”

Now, Swiss cantons have three weeks to discuss and submit proposals for how they would like to see the measures enforced. 

“There are still some questions that need to be clarified,” chief police director Fredy Fässler told Blick, adding that the so-called energy police should not be going door to door to carry out enforcement procedures. “We want to enforce the measures with some sense of discernment.”

Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.