Geneva: Face masks now compulsory in shops and airport

Face masks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus have been made compulsory in shops and at the airport in the canton of Geneva as of Tuesday.

Geneva: Face masks now compulsory in shops and airport
A man with a mask cycles past Geneva Airport. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Late on Friday, Geneva announced that masks would become compulsory in shops from Tuesday onwards, making it the third canton to put in place such a requirement. 

Vaud and Jura are the other two cantons where shopping requires a mask. 

On Monday, Geneva Airport announced that masks would be required throughout the airport, adding to the additional requirement that masks be worn while in the air. 




As reported on Monday by the Local Switzerland, masks have been made compulsory on all SWISS, Helvetic and Edelweiss flights, as well as all European flights.

UPDATED: Where in Switzerland are masks compulsory right now?  

Geneva concerned about rising infections

With 46 new cases registered on Thursday, the figures are worrying, said regional health chief Mauro Poggia on Friday.

Poggia said the situation was worsening and stricter measures needed to be taken.

Shoppers will also be forced to disinfect their hands with hydro-alcoholic solution before entering stores in Geneva. 

Authorities in Geneva also announced that wearing masks will be compulsory for all those who work in beauty and therapy industry, including hairdressers.

The rise in cases in the area has been blamed on a general slacking off of members of the pubic with regards to social distancing and hygiene rules as well as young people returning to bars and holding private parties.

From Friday night bars and discos were obliged to collect the identity and a reliable means of contact for each client.

Venues that don't comply risk steep fines.

Staff at pubs and restaurants must also be masked. These measures will remain in place until at least October.

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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