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HEALTH

Switzerland rejects call from cantons to cut quarantine

The Swiss government has rejected a call from a number of Swiss cantons to cut the country’s quarantine requirement.

Switzerland rejects call from cantons to cut quarantine
Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The health directors from Switzerland’s cantons met with federal authorities on Monday to discuss the measures the country has put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

At the top of the cantons’ list was the federal government’s mandatory ten-day quarantine requirement for all returnees from ‘high-risk’ countries. 

A handful of cantons wanted to shorten the quarantine period, saying it was not proportional. 

Swiss news outlet Le Temps reports that despite the cantonal protests, the federal government “does not intend to relax this measure”. 

UPDATED: Who can enter Switzerland right now?

Cantons call for shorter quarantines

Bern State Councillor Pierre Alain Schnegg said imposing a shorter quarantine would be a more proportional measure which the public would be more likely to comply with. 

“I think it is better to implement a shorter quarantine that is respected, rather than impose one (which is) too long that (will) not be.

“In my canton, we now have three hospitalisations for Covid, including one intubated person. On the other hand, we have more hospitalisations due to sports accidents. However, we are not banning sport!”

UPDATED: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's quarantine requirement 

Rebecca Ruiz, State Councillor from Vaud, cited economic and social reasons for shortening the quarantine. 

“Several cantons have reported that quarantine is badly experienced by part of the population and places certain economic sectors under strong tension,” she said. 

“I would like to ask for an in-depth reflection at the level of the Confederation to consider room for manoeuvre, such as being able to return to work wearing the mask after five days of isolation”

Mario Poggia, the Minister of Health for Geneva – Switzerland’s heaviest hit canton by the virus – said managing the quarantine “was time consuming and difficult”. 

‘Risky’ 

As reported by The Local Switzerland in August, government health authorities are reluctant to shorten the quarantine. 

According to Rudolf Hauri, President of the Association of Swiss Cantonal Doctors, health authorities “are discussing shortening the duration of the quarantine by wearing the mask instead”. 

However, Virginie Masserey, head of FOPH’s infection control, said that while the matter is being reassessed, “it would be risky to reduce the quarantine, which is already shorter in Switzerland than in other countries, where it usually lasts 14 days”. 

Currently about 8,500 people are in quarantine in Switzerland due to exposure, and just over 16,000 after arriving from a country at risk.

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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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