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HEALTH

New mask requirements: Does Switzerland have sufficient stock?

On Sunday, Swiss authorities announced that due to the alarming increase in Covid-19 infections, face masks will now have to be worn in all indoor public spaces.

New mask requirements: Does Switzerland have sufficient stock?
At the moment, Switzerland has enough masks in stock. Photo by AFP

The new measures are being implemented on Monday as Switzerland is experiencing Europe's biggest surge in coronavirus cases, with a 146-percent rise on average.

At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March and April, Switzerland only had two and a half weeks of stocks available, leading to a scarcity of masks at the height of the pandemic.

The shortage became so severe that authorities had to order masks from abroad and buy special equipment to manufacture face coverings locally.

What is the situation now?

Major retailers Migros, Coop, Aldi and Lidl told SRF public broadcaster on Saturday that they have a sufficient number of masks in stock at the moment. 

“We have enough masks and are in close contact with our suppliers in order to guarantee the provision at all times,” Lidl’s spokesperson said.

The military, which provided millions of masks to stores and pharmacies during the first outbreak, also has a large supply.

According to army spokesman Daniel Reist, “our capacities cover 130 percent of the amount defined by public health authorities”.

READ MORE: Which masks sold in Switzerland are most and least effective against Covid-19? 

One of the Swiss manufacturers, Wernli AG, told SRF that the company is currently manufacturing half a million masks a day and will expand its production to 700,000 per day.

However, Wernli’s director Felix Schönle pointed out that domestic production is not sufficient to cover the demand, and 80 percent of the most commonly used disposable masks are imported from China.

 

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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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