Smaller crowds, more fireworks: How Swiss National Day will be celebrated in corona times

Switzerland’s national day is just over a week away. But how will the holiday be celebrated in the pandemic?

Smaller crowds, more fireworks: How Swiss National Day will be celebrated in corona times
Fireworks over Lake Geneva. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

People across Switzerland will be busy brunching, lunching and setting off fireworks on August 1st as the country celebrates its national day. 

But with the coronavirus pandemic in the background, how different will the holiday look? 

Early signs are that while large events with crowds will be avoided, fireworks sales indicate the day is set to go off with a bang. 

In Pictures: How Switzerland celebrated Swiss National Day in style 

Speaking with Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes, fireworks dealers are expecting sales to be up to 40 percent higher than usual. 

A spokesperson for fireworks distributor Weco Suisse said pre-orders for many of Switzerland’s largest fireworks retailers were up on previous years. 

READ: Why Switzerland celebrates its national day on August 1st 

“The big celebrations are canceled due to the ban on major events. However, many do not want to do without the August 1st fireworks and therefore privately stock up on volcanoes, rockets and batteries,” said Franklin Herz. 

“We expect a real fireworks boom”. 

Herz pointed to a similar holiday – the United States’ Independence Day on July 1st – as evidence. 

“The situation there on the occasion of the national holiday on July 4 was very similar – and sales increased by 40 percent.” 

Not only are many of the larger, council-run events cancelled this year, but large gatherings are banned across the country. 

READ: More Swiss cantons reintroduce coronavirus lockdown measures

Events with more than 300 people are prohibited across the country, while some cantons restricted gatherings to 100 people. 

Everything you need to know about Switzerland's National Day: 

– Why Switzerland celebrates its national day on August 1st 

– Ten brilliant ways to celebrate Swiss National Day 

– Swiss National Day: 20 key dates in Switzerland's history 

Swiss National Day: five traditions all expats should try 

– Ten amazing places to be on Swiss National Day 


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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