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Switzerland: Swatch cancels Zurich trade show over coronavirus

Switzerland's Swatch Group on Tuesday said it was cancelling a trade show in Zurich for several of its luxury brands because of fears over the novel coronavirus from China.

Switzerland: Swatch cancels Zurich trade show over coronavirus
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

“Considering the uncertainty related to the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus outbreak and in order to guarantee the welfare of our guests, partners, and colleagues, the Swatch Group Prestige Brands have decided not to hold the Time to Move event,” a spokesman told AFP. 

READ MORE: Two quarantined Zurich patients test negative for coronavirus

The trade show for retailers and press was due to be held in Zurich between February 28 and March 6 and would have seen brands including Omega, Breguet and Blancpain show off their new collections.

“The Swatch Group Prestige brands will introduce their new products to the markets at a later stage during regional events, in order to prevent their partners from travelling internationally in an insecure climate,” the spokesman said.

China is a key growth market for Swatch, which is best known for its affordable multi-coloured watches but owns a vast portfolio of brands ranging from FlikFlak children's watches to the prestigious US jeweller Harry Winston.

Watch industry trade shows are crucial for companies showing off their new collections and signing new orders.

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 20,000 people and killed 425 in China since spreading from the central city of Wuhan late last year.

The virus has so far spread to more than 20 countries.

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HEALTH

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad
 

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