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HEALTH

Zurich proposes ‘rapid coronavirus testing’ in pharmacies to curb rising infections

A coalition of political parties in Zurich has put forth a plan to expand the canton’s testing program by making ‘rapid coronavirus testing’ available at pharmacies.

Zurich proposes ‘rapid coronavirus testing’ in pharmacies to curb rising infections
Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP
The Social Democrats, Swiss People’s Party and the Evangelical People’s Party said tests should be made available in pharmacies before the autumn break. 

The tests will be available on a ‘walk in’ basis, i.e. anyone wanting to be tested would not need to obtain a prescription or a referral from a doctor. 

Under the plan, people with symptoms of the virus would have the cost of the test covered, while those without symptoms would need to cover the cost of the test themselves. 

The advocates of the plan argue that it would reduce the burden on doctors and medical centres, while also making tests easier to obtain for anyone who wants one. 

“By far not all medical practices carry out tests. They are mainly available to patients who have Covid symptoms,” the plan states. 

The plan would allow for international travel to again start operating smoothly. 

“Today more and more countries require a negative Sars-CoV-2 PCR test result to be presented when entering the country” the plan states. 

By making these tests available in pharmacies, the plan would improve the outcomes for “entire sections of the economy” which are reliant on trips abroad. 

Rising infections and a new mask requirement

Amid rising infection rates, Zurich imposes a compulsory mask requirement in shops, markets and supermarkets from August 27th.

Authorities had been reluctant to impose a mask requirement in Switzerland's most populous canton, however their hand was forced by rising infection rates. 

Events and entertainment venues will no longer be able to have more than 100 attendees, unless they have an approved protection concept. 

The decision to implement the mask requirement was made on Monday evening, August 24th. 

Zurich now has 65 new infections per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days, above the Swiss government's threshold of 60 per 100,000 which sees countries designated as 'high risk' and warranting quarantine. 

Correction: This article previously stated that masks were required in restaurants and bars. As of August 27th, masks are only compulsory in shopping centres, supermarkets, markets and shops in Zurich. 

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TAXES

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. 

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