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HEALTH

UPDATE: How Switzerland’s gyms can reopen on May 11th after coronavirus lockdown

Switzerland’s gyms and fitness centres will be allowed to open again from May 11th, provided they comply with stringent social distancing and hygiene requirements.

UPDATE: How Switzerland's gyms can reopen on May 11th after coronavirus lockdown
Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Gyms will again be allowed to open in Switzerland from May 11th, the government announced on Wednesday. 

However, in order to do so, a strict set of social distancing measures will need to be observed. 

READ: Switzerland rolls back lockdown earlier than expected

Gyms, yoga centres and swimming pools may open again. Recreational sports and training for professional/elite sports will also again be allowed to take place from May 11th. 

READ: Switzerland to relax coronavirus lockdown for professional and recreational sport

Measures to be followed

In order for the facilities to be allowed to open again, they must present a “protection concept” to authorities. 

A maximum of one person per ten square metres will apply in every type of fitness facility. 

Devices must be disinfected after every use. 

Although not a requirement if distancing can be achieved through other means, one suggestion was to ensure every second device remains unused. 

There will however be no mask requirements put in place by the government. 

As reported in Watson on April 30th, the changes are expected to be expensive and significant, discouraging many gyms from doing so. 

Fitness centres present reopening plan

On April 15th, the Swiss Fitness and Health Centre Federation presented a set of standards its members would follow in order to reopen in the first wave of lockdown relaxations on April 27th. 

While that plan wasn't approved, it's expected many of the suggestions from the original plan will be carried over when they are permitted to open again on May 11th as part of each gym's protection concept.

The SFGV said that the regular social distancing measures would be adhered to, including no handshakes, two metres distance between participants, regular hand washing and coughing into one’s elbow. 

In addition, a maximum of ten people will be allowed per everyone 100 square metres. Every second cardio machine will be closed in order to ensure distance. 

Gym workers will police all fitness centres to ensure distancing requirements are maintained. They will also be required to clean down machines regularly, while using machines without towels will not be permitted. 

No exercises, activities or classes will be allowed which involve body contact, while markings will be made at entry points to ensure people do not come within two metres of each other. 

In changing rooms, every second shower and locker will be closed.

 

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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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