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HEALTH

Hundreds protest across Switzerland against coronavirus restrictions

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Bern and other Swiss cities Saturday to protest restrictions put in place to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, local media reported.

Hundreds protest across Switzerland against coronavirus restrictions
A motorcyclist wearing a face mask rides past a banner reading in French: "It's going to be all right" in a street in Lausanne on May 8, 2020. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Several hundred people gathered in front of the Swiss parliament in the capital, the Keystone-ATS news agency reported, publishing pictures showing people crammed together surrounded by police.

The protesters voiced anger at measures imposed by Switzerland in mid-March, including closing schools, restaurants and all businesses besides food shops and pharmacies.

Switzerland, which has reported more than 1,500 deaths from COVID-19 and over 30,000 infections, has begun gradually easing its restrictions, allowing barbers, hairdressers and florists to reopen two weeks ago, and with schools, restaurants, museums and libraries due to reopen, under specific conditions, on Monday.

Gatherings of more than five people meanwhile remain banned.

Saturday's protesters said the restrictions imposed violate fundamental rights, and they booed and whistled at the large contingent of police on site, ATS said.

Several protesters brandished posters, including one stating that “With no lockdown measures, Sweden is doing just as well as Switzerland.”

Another 100 to 200 people gathered for a separate protest in Zurich while around 80 gathered in St-Gall, ATS reported.

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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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