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HEALTH

How Swiss cities are cracking down on coronavirus lockdown fatigue

Although lockdowns are still in place across Switzerland, the warmer weather and public holidays have brought many back out onto the streets - leading to concerns that infections will rise quickly.

How Swiss cities are cracking down on coronavirus lockdown fatigue
The Zurich foreshore has been a popular gathering spot. Photo: Unsplash

Authorities in several Swiss cities – where crowds have begun to gather and distance measures are not being observed – have drawn up plans to tackle lockdown fatigue in public places.

Authorities in several Swiss cities have considered taking a variety of steps including cordoning off certain areas and restricting bars and restaurants from putting chairs and tables on the pavement.

Zurich

In an interview with the Tages Anzeiger, Karin Rykart of the Greens said police intervention and barriers are being considered for people gathering in public spaces.

“The city police plan to intervene if things go overboard,” Rykart said.

“People need to be reminded (about the seriousness of the situation)”.

Rykart said she was particularly concerned about large gatherings on areas across the lake basin, which have been closed for several weeks.

On the Utoquai however will not be considered – although additional police patrols will continue.

“Clearing the Utoquai on a Friday evening when too many people are too close together and people don't want to leave the square is not feasible,”

Basel

Swiss media has been full of pictures and video from Basel's “Party Mile” – the city's Steinenvorstadt – where people have been depicted together in close quarters.

As a result, the cantonal government has threatened fines and closures to anyone flaunting lockdown measures, while the area has seen a boosted police presence in recent weeks.

In addition to threatening bar owners and restauranteurs, patrons have also been threatened with fines and sanctions – while all activity must finish at 10pm.

Bars and restaurants which had been allowed to put their tables in public spaces have now had this permission revoked.

Police spokesman Martin Schütz told 20 Minutes that the police had already issued warnings to three restaurants in the area – and would continue to keep the police presence high in the coming weeks.

Bern

Despite frequent protest action with people demonstrating against the lockdown restrictions, Bern has been comparatively calm when it comes to nightlife.

A spokesperson told Swiss newspaper Watson that usual police patrols would continue – but that the public was largely obeying the social distancing restrictions.

READ: Bern to become 'open air bar' in summer to beat coronavirus restrictions

 

Lucerne

Since reopening the lake basin in Lucerne to the public on May 11th, the public’s acceptance of distance rules has slowly waned.

In the Luzerner Zeitung, authorities said they were considering further action to discourage the public from gathering in large groups.

As reported in Swiss newspaper Watson, a security service has been hired who can remind people of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions and who will call the police if directions are ignored.

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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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