Two further Swiss cantons make masks compulsory indoors

Schwyz and Schaffhausen have become the latest Swiss cantons to put in put in place compulsory mask requirements in indoor areas.

Two further Swiss cantons make masks compulsory indoors
A protective face mask reading in German: "Stay healthy! Yes Moderate immigration" in reference to the unsuccessful right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP)-backed initiative. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / A

The additional requirements will apply from Friday, October 16th in both cantons. 

Cantonal authorities announced on Tuesday announced that the two German-speaking cantons would become the 13th and 14th to extend mask requirements beyond the federal minimum. 

READ: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's compulsory mask requirement

Schwyz has the second-highest number of new coronavirus infections over the past 14 days on a per capita basis, after the heavily-hit canton of Geneva

In Schaffhausen, infections are also on the rise. The canton recorded the most coronavirus infections since the outbreak of the pandemic over the past week. 

Where do I need to wear a mask in the two cantons? 

Schaffhausen will require masks in shops, shopping centres and supermarkets from Friday until November 29th at the earliest.

Staff will not be required to wear masks, provided they are protected by a physical partition such as plexiglas. 

Cantonal authorities said further restrictions may be necessary in Schaffhausen if the situation continued to worsen, such as masks required in all publicly accessible indoor spaces as well as at events. 

UPDATE: Where in Switzerland are masks compulsory right now? 

In Schwyz, masks will be required at all public and private events with more than 50 people. 

While it applies to shops and supermarkets – along with bars, restaurants, clubs, cinemas, post offices and places of worship – it will only apply where minimum distance cannot be kept. 

In Schwyz, the number of coronavirus cases rose from 34 to 391 over the past 24 hours to Tuesday, October 13th. 

A total of 12 people are currently quarantined in the canton. 

Masks have been mandated on all public transport in Switzerland since July 6th, however all remaining restrictions have been left up to the cantons. 


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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