Former President Maurer: ‘Switzerland can’t afford a second lockdown’

Former Swiss President Ueli Maurer has asked citizens to be responsible and stick to lockdown rules, saying “Switzerland cannot afford a second lockdown. We just don’t have the money for that.”

Former President Maurer: ‘Switzerland can't afford a second lockdown’
Former Swiss President Ueli Maurer. Image: HERBERT NEUBAUER / APA / AFP

Maurer highlighted Switzerland’s rising debt as a reason the lockdown needs to be avoided, Swiss daily 20 Minutes reports

Swiss Parliament approved taking on 30 billion francs of additional debt, of which the government plans to spend approximately 18 billion. 

Due to a decline in the amount of income, there is expected to be an additional 22 billion francs in debt at the end of 2020.

Maurer, of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, said that tax revenue would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, but also said that a tax increase was unnecessary. 

“We have to find our way back to discipline in spending policy” said Maurer. 

Switzerland to shorten quarantine? 

Maurer, who served as the President of Switzerland in 2013 and in 2019 due to the Federal Council’s power-sharing arrangement, flagged a change to the country’s quarantine rules as a way to minimise the economic impacts. 

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

“We are discussing how quickly we can send the people who are negative, even if they were in a risk area, back into the economy, back to work,” said Maurer.

As reported by The Local on September 15th, tourism industry officials have called for a shortening in the quarantine time – backed up by an expanded testing regime, 

Speaking with Switzerland’s NZZ am Sonntag, Martin Nydegger, director of Switzerland Tourism, said changes needed to be made to the current arrangement. 

“If French tourists are absent in the coming autumn and winter seasons, we will be hit hard” Nydegger told the NZZ am Sonntag

“The quarantine period must be reduced wherever possible,” said Nydegger.

‘We will be hit hard': Swiss tourism officials call to cut quarantine 

“We demand that business and leisure travellers from risky areas with a negative corona test that is not older than 48 hours should be able to enter Switzerland.”

All arrivals from countries on Switzerland’s high-risk list must go into quarantine. 

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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