‘A mask doesn’t cost more than a franc’: Anger as Swiss hairdressers add coronavirus surcharge

Open since Monday, April 27th, Swiss hairdressers have drawn criticism for adding a coronavirus surcharge to the usual price of a haircut.

‘A mask doesn’t cost more than a franc’: Anger as Swiss hairdressers add coronavirus surcharge
A hairdresser and a customer wearing protective gear in Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

While some customers have criticised the move, hairdressers have said it was necessary to cover the significant losses they have incurred due to the coronavirus. 

The surcharge, which has ranged from CHF1 to CHF5 in hairdressers across the country has been charged to cover the costs of masks, disposable aprons and disinfectants used to prevent the spread of the virus. 

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Speaking to SRF magazine Espresso, customers have said that the move is akin to profiteering. 

“There are some who are making money off the coronavirus crisis. I don’t think that’s right,” one customer said. 

“A mask doesn’t cost more than a franc.”

The hairdressers themselves have however said including the surcharge should be a decision made by each salon on the basis of the underlying circumstances. 

Coiffeur Suisse, the industry representative body, said that surcharges have not been made mandatory but are up to the discretion of individual salons. 

Brigitte Hodel, Vice President of Coiffeur Suisse, told SRF that not only were salons forced to purchase additional protective material, but that more work was needed to clean and prepare the salon in between customer visits – which could mean fewer appointments across the day. 

Many salons are keeping every second chair free, which also means fewer customers despite a surge in demand for hairdressing services. 

Hodel also said customers who brought their own protective equipment would be able to pay a lower amount, while emphasising that the surcharge was only temporary. 

“When everything normalises again (after the coronavirus crisis) we will surely cancel this surcharge.”

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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.