Switzerland to remove Belgium from quarantine list

Travellers arriving into Switzerland from Belgium will no longer have to self-quarantine, Swiss health authorities announced.

Switzerland to remove Belgium from quarantine list
Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga (L) and Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset walk in front of the Swiss House of Parliament on their way to a press conference. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

At a press conference on Wednesday, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset announced that Belgium would be removed from the list of high-risk countries. 

Swiss media outlet Watson reported that Belgium would be taken from the list, although Berset did not indicate when the update would be formally made. 

The Federal Office of Public Health has not yet responded to a contact request from The Local for a clarification on the date.  

Belgium was added to the list in mid-August due to rising infection rates

Switzerland’s threshold for being included on the ‘high risk’ quarantine list is 60 infections per 100,000 inhabitants. 

Despite rising infection rates pushing France over the threshold, Berset said on Wednesday that France would not as yet be placed on the list. 

“We want to take into account that the situation (in France) is different from that of other countries,” Berset said. 

“We talked about the situation in France. They know the situation, they know the conditions. France has more than 60 cases per 100,000. But there is no automatic way of putting a country on the quarantine list.”

Berset said the government would continue to deliberate whether to place France on its mandatory quarantine list. 

There are currently 53 countries on the list. 

Is Switzerland on Belgium’s list?

Belgium also has placed parts of Switzerland on its quarantine list, although the Kingdom is one of the few countries to do so on a canton-by-canton basis. 

Currently, 13 Swiss cantons are on Belgium’s ‘recommend not to travel list’, with a travel ban on Geneva downgraded to a recommendation not to travel. 

The updated list can be found here


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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