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HEALTH

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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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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