Switzerland to hold coronavirus ‘crisis meeting’ with cantons

The Swiss government has announced it will hold a ‘crisis meeting’ on the coronavirus with leaders from the 26 cantons.

Switzerland to hold coronavirus ‘crisis meeting’ with cantons
Federal President Simonetta Sommaruga and Health Minister Alain Berset Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The decision to hold the meeting comes amid rising infection rates across the country. 

Swiss media outlet Tages Anzeiger reports the ‘crisis summit’ is set to be “an exchange” between leaders of Switzerland’s cantonal authorities and the federal government. 

The government will be represented by Federal President Simonetta Sommaruga, Health Minister Alain Berset and Economy Minister Guy Parmelin. 

The meeting is set for Tuesday afternoon, with the results of the summit to be announced on Tuesday evening. 

Stay tuned to The Local Switzerland for updates from the meeting, including whether any federally coordinated lockdown measures will be implemented. 

Rising infection rates a concern in Switzerland 

In the past few days the number of coronavirus infections in the country has exceeded 200 a day, rising nearly twofold from previous weeks.

That is a substantial rise from the month of June, when the count for daily cases was in the low two- digits.

“The increase is significant. We were a little too confident,” Jacques Fellay, a member of Switzerland’s Covid-19 Task Force told the Swiss media. 

According to Fellay, if the numbers continue to soar, the country “will experience a very complicated autumn and winter”.

“We are on a dangerous slope,” he said.

Fellay added that the current number of infections must decrease before the start of the cold season, which is more favourable to the spread of the virus.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Switzerland records highest number of new cases since April 

As people tend to spend more time indoors during cold weather, the number of infections is expected to soar.

“The large outbreaks that have been identified so far happened essentially in closed places,” he noted.

And if the situation continues to worsen, a return to confinements cannot be ruled out, Fellay pointed out.

“In Switzerland, we can very well imagine confinements in the coming months targeted on a region, a city or a village,” he said.

Such a scenario is likely to happen if the number of daily cases exceeds 300 within a month.

The only way to prevent the surge in numbers, Fellay said, is to wear a mask and avoid large gatherings until the arrival of a vaccine, which could be ready sometime in 2021.

Bigger gatherings allowed with rules

Meanwhile, the Swiss government has announced this week that it will allow gatherings of more than 1,000 people as of October 1st. 

“Strict protective measures will apply and the events will have to be authorised by the cantons, taking into account the local epidemiological situation and their contact tracing capacity,” authorities said.

Health officials are also worried that the spread of Covid-19 will coincide with the flu season, which usually hits in fall and winter.

According to Giorgio Merlani, Ticino’s cantonal doctor, “The flu can have a severe impact on the capacity of hospitals. We cannot afford it this winter as a second wave of coronavirus arrives.”



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Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here.