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Reader poll: Four in five want to extend compulsory masks across Switzerland

A poll of The Local Switzerland readers shows overwhelming support for expanding the compulsory mask requirement to shops, supermarkets and in the service industry across Switzerland.

Reader poll: Four in five want to extend compulsory masks across Switzerland
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

More than 80 percent of those who responded said the mask requirement should be extended. 

The poll drew the biggest response in the history of The Local Switzerland, with 142 respondents along with dozens more on social media. 

The vast majority of respondents supported the mask requirements as they stand, while a majority asked that they be extended. 

Do you support the mask requirement – and should it be extended? 

Just under nine in ten respondents were fans of the mask requirement in public transport (85.9 percent). 

Reader Joelle Fellhauer said she supported the mask rule due to the need to protect the most vulnerable. 

“Absolutely YES. We’re all part of a community and if this small Inconvenience is what it takes to protect people, specially the weakest, then we should do it…& the government should make it mandatory when more selfish members of the community are being short-sighted and put others at risk.”

The support was similarly strong for extending the mask requirement to shops and supermarkets, with 80.1 percent of people in favour. 

 

The support declined somewhat for compulsory masks in food and drink service, but 71 percent of respondents still said they were in favour. 

 

When asked where else masks should be made compulsory, the answers varied greatly. 

Plenty of respondents told us that masks should not be made compulsory anywhere else, while some said they felt a mask should be worn at all times when leaving your house. 

Some created their own science around masks to tell us that they were ineffective or harmful, but by and large most of the respondents were sensible and informed when it came to mask wearing. 

READ: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's new compulsory mask requirement 

Are people following the rules? 

Almost four fifths of people felt that the mask requirement was being complied with on public transport, with only 21.1 percent of respondents disagreeing. 

Evie McQuire joined the chorus of many of our respondents who said fines should be increased for failure to wear masks, citing an example of disobedience in the tram. 

“Must be mandatory of wearing a mask for the safety of everyone and they should have a fine for not wearing a mask …so that (a) hardheaded person will learn from it…and for everyones safety..” 

“For example today i was in a tram and theres one woman who didn’t wear a mask and she’s sleeping on the tram with open wide mouth…if she got the virus then everyone around her will b infected too…”

Another respondent, Cassandra Budlong, also called for higher fines:  

“Definitely- and they need to fine those not complying. Have seen some wearing none, and a couple who held the mask in their hand and only put it on when they say the conductor coming!”

Who follows the rules the best? 

Before the masks requirement came into place, several of our foreign readers complained that they were the only ones complying. 

But since the mask has been made mandatory, it appears that both internationals and locals are complying with the rules.

When asked if “expats and internationals were complying more than Swiss nationals” the majority said they were unsure (65.5 percent), compared with almost one in five who thought that Internationals followed the rules more often. 

The remainder – 14.8 percent – felt that locals complied better than foreigners. 

One respondents said there was a stark difference between Swiss locals and foreigners. 

“In shops and other public places, it’s clearly visible that foreigners wear masks while the Swiss do not. Furthermore, every expat I know has said they will not go out without a mask, where as every Swiss person I know pretty much ignores it.”

READ: One in ten passengers abused for wearing masks 

And why? 

Plenty of our readers had strong feelings on who was complying. One said that the Swiss were “arrogant villagers” who don’t use common sense. 

“The Swiss feel above everything, arrogant villagers, that only follow whatever is convenient. Non-Swiss use common sense, irrespective of the regulations or subjective beliefs”. 

Another said foreigners were motivated by fear to stick to the rules: “non-citizens fear reprisals from the government”. 

Another reader drew parallels with wearing masks and the elusive notion of ‘freedom’: “I never hear expats complain about (masks). While Swiss people talk about getting freedom taken away.”

For members

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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