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HEALTH

‘We advise you not to travel’: Sweden retaliates against Switzerland’s quarantine order

Sweden has confirmed that a decision to recommend its citizens not to travel to Switzerland was made in retaliation after its citizens were required to quarantine on arriving in the Alpine country.

‘We advise you not to travel’: Sweden retaliates against Switzerland’s quarantine order
A masked person in front of a Swiss airlines check in desk. Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Sweden on July 15th advised its citizens against traveling to Switzerland. On the same day, similar warnings for France, Germany and Italy were removed. 

A government representative confirmed on Wednesday to Swiss media that the move was a retaliation for Switzerland’s mandatory quarantine of arrivals from Sweden. 

READ: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's quarantine requirement

On July 6th, Switzerland put in place a mandatory ten-day quarantine for all arrivals from Sweden, citing a high infection rate in the Nordic country. 

According to current government advice, Sweden remains a ‘high risk’ country – although this may change when the Swiss government updates the list on Wednesday, July 22nd. 

The infection rate in Sweden dropped to 57 per 100,000 residents this week, just under the Swiss government’s quarantine threshold of 60 per 100,000 people for a country to be classified as 'high risk'. 

‘Restricting the freedom of Swedes to travel’

Julia Eriksson Pogorzelska, spokeswoman for the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes that the decision was retaliatory and would stand until at least July 29th. 

“Measures taken by individual countries will be included in the assessment, which will make entry more difficult or restrict the freedom of Swedish citizens to travel,” Pogorzelska said. 

According to figures released by the news outlet, there were 183,045 overnight stays in Switzerland by Swedish travellers in 2019. 

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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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