Coronavirus skepticism on the rise in Switzerland

Despite thousands of infections all across the country, skepticism about coronavirus is growing in Switzerland.

Coronavirus skepticism on the rise in Switzerland
A woman protests in Bern. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Of the problems that Swiss authorities have encountered in battling the coronavirus pandemic, the need to convince adults that a virus is real is perhaps a little surprising. 

But a new poll from Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes shows that one in five adult Swiss have doubts about the virus and feel that there are “inconsistencies” in the way it is being discussed and portrayed. 

Across the country, a number of movements have been started which call into question some aspects of the virus – or whether it exists at all. 

During the coronavirus lockdown, some of these movements reached a head at ‘anti lockdown’ protests, many of which featured conspiracy theorists or far-right elements. 

IN PICTURES: Inside Switzerland's anti-coronavirus lockdown protests 

A series of flyers being handed out at stations and in public places across the country in recent weeks have focused on masks, pedalling the false narrative that facial coverings are ineffective against the virus or that they make it worse. 

As reported in Swiss news outlet Watson, members of the ‘StayAwake’ movement have taken on prominent media organisations, accusing them of helping the government strip away fundamental rights. 

This has taken place particularly regularly since masks were made compulsory on July 6th. 

‘Only those with plastic visors were infected': Swiss government warns against face shields

The Federal Office of Public Health called out the movement, noting that it made many false assertions in its flyers – including that wearing a mask against the coronavirus is useless, leads to loss of consciousness and an increase in viruses and bacteria in the lungs. 

The FOPH noted that the movement had close connections to the Kremlin, giving rise to concerns that Russian operatives are trying to sew social discord during the pandemic. 


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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.