UPDATE: Belgium extends ‘do not travel’ recommendation to 13 Swiss cantons

Belgium has updated its recommendation not to travel - and to take a coronavirus test on return - to 13 Swiss cantons.

UPDATE: Belgium extends ‘do not travel’ recommendation to 13 Swiss cantons
Planes at Geneva Airport. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

On Wednesday, the Belgian government removed three Swiss cantons from its 'orange: recommendation not to travel' list, while Geneva was downgraded from 'red: do not travel' to orange. 

Lucerne, Schaffhausen and Thurgau were the three cantons removed from the list, as reported by Swiss tabloid Blick

The complete list is: Geneva, Neuchâtel, Schwyz, Valais, Vaud, Friborg, Basel-City, Zurich, Glarus, Solothurn, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Uri and Zug.

The Belgium government recommends against travelling to countries or regions on the orange list and calls for a coronavirus test on return, however this is not mandatory. 

READ: Will the UK place Switzerland on its quarantine list? 

Belgians are banned from travelling to countries and cantons on its red list. With Geneva removed, no Swiss cantons are currently on this list. 

Anyone who has been in a banned area must quarantine and complete a coronavirus test on arrival in Belgium.

As reported by The Local Switzerland, Geneva’s infection rate is currently at 96 infections per 100,000 residents (recorded over the past 14 days). 

‘Officially a high-risk area': How Geneva became Switzerland's new coronavirus hotspot 

The mark is well above the Swiss government's ‘high risk' classification of 60 per 100,000 – meaning that if Geneva was a separate country, residents would be forced to quarantine upon entering the rest of Switzerland.

Zurich is the other Swiss canton to have breached the threshold. 

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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