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HEALTH

Experts warn of second coronavirus wave in Switzerland

Switzerland is just days away from a further relaxation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions - but some experts are worried this could lead to a second wave of the virus.

Experts warn of second coronavirus wave in Switzerland
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

On Monday, May 11th, Switzerland will enter the second phase of its coronavirus lockdown. 

Restaurants, bars, gyms, schools, museums and galleries will open again – subject to certain restrictions – while public transport will once more run on usual timetables. 

Switzerland rolls back coronavirus lockdown earlier than expected: What you need to know 

'There is a price for rushing back'

While the news has been welcomed by many across the country – particularly on the back of evidence the country is beginning to flatten the infection curve – experts are warning that opening up too soon may lead to another wave of infections in Switzerland. 

Heidi Hanselmann, President of Swiss Health Directors, said the winding back of the lockdown requirements was not a good idea and could lead to another spike in infections. 

Hanselmann said a more cautious reopening would have been preferred in the longer term, as the economic consequences could be similarly severe next time around.

READ: Concerns grow in Europe over potential 'second wave' of coronavirus as lockdowns are eased 

“The fact is that four of us can now sit around a table on May 11th. Two would have been a better middle ground”. 

“The price for rushing would be an impact which was much heavier for the population”, she said

“We shouldn’t give up what we’ve achieved over the past few weeks through these painful (lockdown) restrictions”. 

Photo: Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Despite the destruction caused by the first wave of the virus, there is the potential it could return more severely next winter.

The last global pandemic, the Spanish Flu from 1918 to 1920, saw a second wave which was far more deadly than the first, killing an estimated five to ten times as many people. 

Matthias Egger, who heads Switzerland’s Coronavirus Taskforce, said the medical community was concerned that people may have developed ‘lockdown fatigue’ and will perceive the next set of relaxations – to take place on Monday – as a return to normal. 

We can continue to win the battle against the virus, Egger said “but everyone needs to participate. Otherwise a second wave is realistic.”

We might need to live with restrictions for ‘two years or more’

Egger told the NZZ that the restrictions in some form may need to last for two years. 

While Egger said the rules would likely be less significant than they are currently, some form of social distancing and hygiene requirements as well as the use of masks may need to stay in place until a vaccine is not just discovered but is widely available. 

“It is possible that we will need to continue living like this for two years or more” Egger said on Sunday. 

“My hope is that vaccinations can be carried out on a large scale in the course of a year”. 

 

 

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TAXES

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. 

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