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HEALTH

Coronavirus: Majority of Swiss support making masks compulsory

Three out of five Swiss would support a law making wearing masks compulsory in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Majority of Swiss support making masks compulsory
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

A study conducted across Switzerland has shown 59 percent of people supporting putting in a rule that requires everyone to wear masks in public – under the proviso that masks are actually available. 

Conversely, 38 percent of respondents indicated they would not support such a requirement – with three percent saying they did not know. 

UPDATE: What you need to know about the coronavirus crisis in Switzerland

Switzerland has been somewhat of an outlier when it comes to making masks compulsory. 

Austria has had a mask requirement in place for some time, while several hard-hit German states including Bavaria are incorporating compulsory mask wearing as part of an easing of lockdown restrictions.  

Not only has the Swiss government not made masks compulsory, but the wearing of masks is not even recommended. 

According to the Federal Office of Public Health, only sick people are advised to wear masks. 

In the study, 60 percent of respondents felt the government had not made masks compulsory because the devices were in such short supply.  

Support highest among older Swiss and those in affected areas

While less than half of those under 34 supported a mask requirement, older Swiss were particularly in favour. 

More than two thirds – 69 percent – of over 65s supported making masks compulsory. 

Those over 65 – as well as people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and respiratory conditions are the most at risk for the virus. 

There was also a regional difference in support, with 77 percent of respondents in Ticino saying they were in favour of a mask requirement. 

Ticino has been the hardest hit canton in Switzerland for coronavirus fatalities on a per capita basis. 

The study was completed by Swiss media company Tamedia and featured more than 40,000 respondents from across Switzerland. 

 

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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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