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HEALTH

Switzerland promises an easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions after successful Easter

Switzerland’s Health Minister said the country can start easing lockdown measures, but warned the country was “a long way from being finished” in the battle against the coronavirus.

Switzerland promises an easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions after successful Easter
Photo: SALVATORE DI NOLFI / POOL / AFP

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said on Monday evening that he was pleased with people’s behaviour in respecting the lockdown during the Easter period. 

In adhering to the measures, along with the continued flattening of the curve of new Covid-19 infections in Switzerland, Berset indicated that the country would start relaxing the measures soon. 

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“It didn’t go too badly and so we need to thank everyone for that. As we said, this is not the moment to travel or take holidays – for example in Ticino – and as we saw, people have stuck to the rules. 

“I’m happy about that – we’re asking a lot from people at the moment, it needs to be said.”

Berset said that while the country could now begin loosening lockdown measures, the focus was to avoid having a second wave of infections. 

The Minister said he wanted to avoid what had taken place in other countries, where measures were relaxed but later strengthened as infections again rose. 

“We will do everything we can in loosening the measures without the risk of having to tighten them again. 

Berset reasserted that the country needed to remain humble as vulnerable people will continue to be affected until there is a vaccine. Until a vaccine was found, there is a need to abide by the rules and to keep proper hygiene, Berset said. 

Berset did not give a concrete date on when lockdown restrictions would be eased, or exactly which measures would be dropped first. 

 

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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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