First Swiss canton calls for an easing to lockdown restrictions

The government of the Swiss canton of Lucerne has called upon the Federal Council to loosen the countrywide coronavirus lockdown restrictions on April 19th.

First Swiss canton calls for an easing to lockdown restrictions
A giant screen reading in French: "Coronavirus, public meeting forbidden" is seen at the entrance of the city of Montreux. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Fabian Peter, the Minister for the Economy in Lucerne, has said the first step in lessening the restrictions should start on April 19th. 

Peter said the Federal Council should allow shops to reopen, including garden stores, fashion shops and booksellers. 

Peter said it would be the first wave of reopenings aimed at boosting the canton’s flagging economy, followed by again allowing hairdressers and restaurants to trade. 

Speaking with the Lucerne Zeitung, Peter said that “such a plan would send a positive signal”.

“An exit strategy is now needed, with the health situation setting the pace.”

As yet, Lucerne is the only canton to support such a measure, however Peter indicated he was hoping to get the support of other cantonal economics ministers. 

Yesterday, interior minister Alain Berset said that easing the restrictions before April 20th was “not realistic”, despite the current end date for the restrictive measures standing at April 19th. 

READ: Swiss health minister warns public 'it's illusory to think lockdown will end on April 20th' 

Representatives from all of the major Swiss political parties have agreed with this sentiment, other than the populist SVP who have called upon the government to allow all shops to open by April 19th after taking protective measures. 

As it currently stands, Swiss authorities are set to decide on April 16th whether or not the measures should be extended beyond the current deadline of April 19th. 


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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