‘Don’t give into fear’: Swiss government tries to reassure public as cases double overnight

Swiss officials urged people not to be afraid as cases of COVID-19 almost doubled on Sunday and drastic measures to halt the spread of the virus took hold.

'Don't give into fear': Swiss government tries to reassure public as cases double overnight

“We must not give in to fear,” Health Minister Alain Berset told NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, calling on people to stay calm and pull together.

Infections jumped on Sunday by nearly 1,000 in 24 hours to 2,200 and 14 deaths were recorded from the virus across the country.

READ: What you need to know about Switzerland's school closures

UPDATE: What you need to know about coronavirus in Switzerland 

On Friday, the government closed schools and banned large public gatherings and the army said it was preparing to help overstretched hospitals.

The country also reintroduced tight border controls with neighbouring countries in the bloc and slapped strict limits on who can cross over from hard-hit Italy, where more than 1,400 people have died in the pandemic.

The southern Ticino region, which borders Italy, went further and ordered the closure of all restaurants, bars and shops, with the exception of food stores and pharmacies.

After the nationwide measures were announced, the wealthy Alpine nation saw shelves in some supermarkets stripped bare  as people anticipated tighter restrictions and shortages.

President Simonetta Sommaruga told Le Matin Dimanche newspaper Switzerland was well-placed to handle the outbreak.

“We are in a position to overcome this crisis, on the medical and the financial level,” she insisted, pointing out that “Switzerland is a rich country. We won't leave anyone behind.”

The government announced Friday that it would make $10.5 billion available immediately to help companies and employees to make it through the crisis.

Thomas Kluhr, head of national airline Swiss, said no airline would survive the crisis without government support.

He told SonntagsBlick weekly Swiss and its parent company Lufthansa were likely to survive for longer than other airlines, adding: “But how long is unclear in this constantly changing situation.”

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Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here.