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HEALTH

Three more Swiss cantons make masks compulsory in shops and supermarkets

The Swiss cantons of Zug, Ticino and Bern have each announced a range of new lockdown restrictions, including compulsory masks in shops and supermarkets.

Three more Swiss cantons make masks compulsory in shops and supermarkets
Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga, wearing a protective face mask. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

There are now 12 cantons in Switzerland where masks are required in shops and supermarkets. 

Zurich, Basel City, Fribourg, Valais, Solothurn, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Vaud and Jura have already put in place compulsory mask rules. 

Zug

Masks will be required in sales outlets, shopping centres and supermarkets from Saturday, October 12th in Zug. 

The move makes Zug the first canton in central Switzerland to require masks while shopping. 

“The increasing number of cases is worrying, which is why this measure has to be taken in good time,” explains Health Director Martin Pfister to the Luzerner Zeitung

Employees of restaurants will also be required to wear masks from October 12th. 

Employees and customers of hairdressing salons, tattoo studios, cosmetic studios and massage parlours have been required to wear masks in Zug since August 22nd. 

Bern

From Monday, October 12th, masks must be worn in all publicly accessible indoor areas in Bern. 

In addition, all guests must be seated in bars, clubs and restaurants – while the maximum number of people allowed into each of these types of establishments is capped at 300. 

As noted by cantonal authorities, the mask requirement applies to a wide variety of indoor areas. 

“It is mandatory to wear a mask in all publicly accessible indoor areas. This includes shops and shopping centres, post offices, museums, theatres, libraries, administration buildings, places of worship and religious communal rooms, cinemas and train stations including platforms and underpasses. In bars, clubs, discos and dance halls, as well as in restaurants, guests are only allowed to take off their masks when they are seated at a table.”

Ticino

In Ticino – which was originally the heaviest hit of the cantons but has avoided the increase in new infections seen elsewhere – masks will be required from Saturday, October 10th in shops and shopping centres, reports 20 Minutes

Masks must also be worn by restaurant staff, with plastic face visors deemed insufficient by cantonal authorities. 

‘Only those with plastic visors were infected': Swiss government warns against face shields 

All clubs, discos and dance halls must also close in the Italian-speaking canton from Saturday. 

Guests in restaurants are not allowed to eat or drink standing up. 

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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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