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Y2K: Swiss cabinet ministers do not take the lift

Even though flyers inside the Swiss parliament buildings warn against taking the lift because of the Y2K bug, experts are confident that Switzerland faces no major crisis when computer clocks roll over to 2000.

This content was published on December 31, 1999 - 11:16

Even though flyers inside the Swiss parliament buildings warn against taking the lift because of the Y2K bug, experts are confident that Switzerland faces no major crisis when computer clocks roll over to 2000.

Swiss banks, the federal railways and the postal service have been preparing for months to fix their software, and the government’s Y2K delegate felt sufficiently confident about the country’s preparedness to officially step down from his job a few weeks ago.

The Swiss have been assured for months that their money will be safe in the banks, that supermarket shelves will not be empty and that cities will not fall into darkness due to collapsing power grids.

And yet…

The federal authorities have set up a special website -- www.millenium.ch -- that will count down to the magic date and list any problems, developments and Y2K reactions from abroad -- almost in real time.

Swiss cabinet members, should they intend to pop the champagne corks in the parliament buildings, have been warned against using lifts on the magic date, and the federal government has closed its electronic post box for Internet mail because of possible computer viruses.

Security across the country has also been beefed up as an estimated 10,000 firefighters are on standby – just in case some people get stuck in lifts, telecommunications are snuffed out or hospital power generators do not work.

Travellers riding any of the 80 Swiss passenger trains into the new year need not fear: An additional 300 staff have been called up, in addition to the regular 2,000 people working those critical hours from 18:00 on December 31st till 06:00 on January 1st.

For those who dodge the Y2K bug and successfully make it into the new year, the canton Zug authorities have set up the www.zug.ch millennium special webpage, where anybody can post their wishes and contributions for the magic year.

Much of that magic will certainly come from the many fireworks going off before and after clocks strike the midnight hour.

For those ringing in the new year aboard a Swissair aircraft, Switzerland’s largest carrier has some advice: “Fireworks that go off in flight can bring down an aircraft,” says an advisory for passengers.

From staff and wire reports.

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