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HEALTH

Your views: Should Switzerland make face masks obligatory in shops?

This week, Switzerland put in place mask requirements on all public transport and in shops in two cantons. Is this enough?

Your views: Should Switzerland make face masks obligatory in shops?
Should masks be made compulsory in shops? Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

We reached out to our readers on Facebook to ask if they thought further steps should be taken regarding masks in Switzerland – and if they wore a mask themselves. 

Mask requirement from July 6th onwards

On Thursday, July 2nd, the Swiss government announced that the mask requirement on public transport will be enforced from Monday, July 6th. 

Masks were not made compulsory in shops or supermarkets in Switzerland on a federal level. Two cantons, Vaud and Jura, have unilaterally decided that masks will be required from Monday onwards.

This was after months of reluctance to put in place such a requirement – despite similar requirements being made compulsory in each of Switzerland’s neighbours. 

READ: Why did it take Switzerland so long to make masks compulsory?

Should masks be made compulsory in shops like they have been on public transport? Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

‘Yes – it’s very selfish’

More than 40 people responded to our request for comments, the vast majority of whom said they wore masks in public places – and felt masks should be made compulsory in all shops and stores. 

Jeff Schiemann said “If you have to wear pants to go out… you should have to wear a mask. No shirt No shorts No shoes No mask no service… for public health and safety reasons.”

Miriam Newbern Benetti said simply “Yes!!! Absolutely, it's about time!”

Anton Kondraschov said an earlier mask requirement would have curbed the current increase in new infections. 

“Enough with tooth fruity recommendations – take the bull by the horns and enforce masks everywhere, plain and simple. If the easing of measures would have been accompanied by mandatory mask regime we would [definitely] not be seeing the growing statistic.”

Marianne Jaccottet said “All you non-maskers are very selfish! A mask doesn’t only save you, but saves others from you.”

‘Close those nightclubs’

While plenty of readers were in favour of requiring masks in shops, others identified nightclubs as an important factor. 

There have been several outbreaks in Switzerland’s nightclubs, with hundreds of people forced into quarantines as a result. 

READ: With more coronavirus outbreaks, did Switzerland reopen nightclubs too soon? 

Martin Vondruska said “They opened nightclubs… and shopping with masks is a topic?”

Veronika Marjansdottir Cencen wrote “Before we start this mask hoarding business I think night clubs need to be shut down since they seem to be the problem.”

Victoria Wirz replied “Yes, I always wear a mask in shops and supermarkets. And close those nightclubs”. 

‘It depends’

Before the mask requirement, Switzerland recommended residents wear masks only where social distancing was not possible. 

Some of our readers took still abide by that suggestion. While one reader Zeyno said she “will not shop anywhere that is requesting a mask” and another named Michelle pushed a conspiracy theory narrative, this was not the norm. 

However, plenty said they felt social distancing was enough to prevent transmission of the virus. 

Tonya Riehl wrote “Depends how full the parking lot is and the size of the store. If physical distance will be hard I wear the mask, if not no mask.”

Rachel Pouso wrote “Yes – they should be compulsory in all enclosed public spaces. If distances cannot be kept outdoors then I think it’s also necessary.”

 

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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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