Which cantons are worst at enforcing coronavirus measures?

Switzerland’s federal government has criticises cantonal authorities for failing to properly implement coronavirus controls, with some cantons singled out for particularly poor behaviour.

Which cantons are worst at enforcing coronavirus measures?
A man in a mask walks in front of Swiss Parliament in Bern. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

An official letter from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health to the cantons has said “increased control is required” in order to stop the spread of the virus. 

The federal authorities were critical of the cantons for failing to adopt the basic measures as required by the cantons. 

Information received by Swiss tabloid Blick shows a wide divergence in how many controls are carried out in different cantons. 

The major source of criticism was a failure to enforce measures at slaughterhouses, butchers and other food processing plants. Construction sites and beauty services should also be checked. 

The controls look to see if hygiene and social distancing rules are complied with in workplaces. 

READ: Face masks compulsory in shops and airport from today

Switzerland’s northern neighbour Germany has had a number of outbreaks at food processing plants and slaughterhouses. 

The feds said “there is a need to monitor more” in companies “for which increased risks are suspected”. 

Blick reports that several cantons have decided to step up their controls as a result of the letter. 

Which cantons are failing to enforce coronavirus measures? 

Not all cantons were behaving equally, the report found. 

While Basel City and Thurgau performed controls on more than 1,300 companies to determine compliance with coronavirus measures since the start of July, St Gallen has made 650 checks – despite having a population more than double that of Basel City and Thurgau. 

Zug has only performed 40 such inspections, while Glarus has failed to make one inspection on any business anywhere. 

UPDATE: Where in Switzerland are masks compulsory right now? 

Authorities in Zurich – Switzerland’s most populous canton – along with those from Valais and Graubünden have failed to release any information about cantonal numbers. 

The quality of the controls also varies widely, according to the report. 

Inspectors in Basel City found 760 defects in their inspections, while in Thurgau only 96 complaints were identified.

Construction sites particularly problematic 

Checks on constriction sites revealed dozens of breaches.

In Basel City alone, there were 107 breaches from 167 inspections. A total of 6,200 checks were made across Switzerland, from which 60 ‘serious’ breaches were found. 

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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