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HEALTH

‘We’re halfway’: Switzerland warns there will be no early end to coronavirus restrictions

The Swiss government has hit back at cantonal officials who have called for an end to the country’s coronavirus measures, saying the country was not yet halfway through the crisis.

'We're halfway': Switzerland warns there will be no early end to coronavirus restrictions
Daniel Koch of the Swiss Federal office of public health listens to Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset (R). Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Swiss authorities have quashed hopes of a premature end to the coronavirus measures.

Health more important than economy

Daniel Koch, from the Federal Office of Public Health, hit back against a request from the canton of Lucerne that businesses again be allowed to open from April 20th. 

READ: First Swiss canton calls for an easing to lockdown restrictions

“It’s not the Federal Office of Public Health but the Federal Council that decides this. (The Federal Council) takes all such requests and suggestions very seriously.”

Koch said the priority was not to ensure the right balance was struck between health policy and the economy, but to instead prioritise the health of the population. 

“At most, we are halfway through the crisis.”

“We are already thinking about easing the measures, however there are different steps that can be taken. 

“First of all, we need to think about new infections… Then there are hospital admissions. Here too, regional diversity must be taken into account.”

‘Far from being solved’

Although numbers of confirmed infections and deaths from the virus have been rising at a slower rate than in previous weeks, Koch said this was not an indication that the battle was being won. 

“It seems to be stabilising,” said Koch. 

“But it is too early to say that the problem has been solved. The problem is far from being solved.”

Hospitals still have capacity for more patients 

Koch did have some good news, saying that hospitals across the country had capacity for more patients, regardless of their condition. 

“Fortunately, capacity is not exhausted (anywhere in Switzerland),” Koch said. 

“Fortunately there are still places in the intensive care units everywhere – even with ventilators”.

Koch said that despite some reports that hospitals were ‘under crowded’ given the threat of the virus, steps had been taken to separate coronavirus patients from the general population. 

Koch also said he didn’t expect any shortages of medication in Switzerland. 

 

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TAXES

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. 

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