Switzerland to ban alcohol at stadium events

From October 1st, Switzerland will again allow events with more than 1,000 people. In order to minimise the potential for infections, Swiss authorities are seeking to ban alcohol from venues.

Switzerland to ban alcohol at stadium events
Swiss fans enjoy a beverage. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Note: At a meeting on Wednesday, September 2nd, Switzerland's Federal Council rejected the ban on alcohol at large events. This is covered here

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset is set to introduce a ban on alcohol at stadiums when they are again allowed to host events with more than 1,000 people from October onwards. 

The ban will only apply to sporting events at stadiums and will not apply to concerts and music events. 

Swiss tabloid Blick reported on Tuesday that Berset is seeking to have the ban approved when the government meets on Wednesday, September 2nd. 

The tabloid reports that several cantons have asked Berset to push through the ban, mirroring that in place for international sporting events where alcohol cannot be served. 

‘German speakers half as likely to wear masks': Pandemic highlights Switzerland's cultural divide 

While the proposal has the support of mainstream parties, it is opposed by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) who say it is a “strange idea”. 

“We firmly reject an alcohol ban in stadiums” said SVP parliamentary group leader Thomas Aeschi to Blick. 

Berset says that the ban would only remain in place for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, i.e. it would not become a permanent fixture in Swiss sport going forward. 

In addition to the alcohol ban, only seats would be available for games – i.e. no standing terraces – while outdoor stadiums could only be filled to two-thirds of overall capacity. 

Indoor stadiums are capped at half capacity under the plan. 

Masks are mandatory under the plan, while the stadiums will be divided into 100-strong sectors to enable contact tracing in the event of an outbreak. 

All attendees will be required to provide contact details. 

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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