Can I be fined for not wearing a mask in Switzerland?
Since October 19th, masks have been compulsory in indoor areas across Switzerland. Can so-called ‘mask refusers’ be fined or arrested?
On July 6th, the Swiss government made masks compulsory in public transport nationwide.
On October 19th, the requirement was extended to all indoor areas - including bars, shops, restaurants, shopping centres, discos, post offices and a range of other venues.
But what happens if someone does not want to wear a mask?
Can I refuse to wear a mask?
In areas where masks are compulsory, there is no right of refusal. Under Swiss law, you cannot conscientiously object to the mask rule.
If you don't wear one, you will be asked to leave the shop or venue, or to get off at the next stop if you’re on public transport.
If you refuse, you may be sanctioned or arrested for disobedience - but not for failing to wear a mask.
For example, a person was arrested for refusing to wear a mask in a shopping centre in the canton of Lucerne on October 17th.
Police however clarified that the arrest was made because the man refused to exit the building after being told to wear a mask - and was not punished for failing to wear a mask per se.
Can I be fined for not wearing a mask?
Good question. Technically speaking, breaching the mask requirement can lead to a fine of up to CHF10,000 under the Epidemics Act - although whether such a fine will be levied against an individual remains to be seen.
Pursuant to the Act, violations of the mask requirement can result in fines of up to CHF10,000 - while negligent violations can be punished with fines of CHF5,000.
Prosecution will be conducted by the cantons but will need a complaint to be lodged by a shop or bar owner in order to start the process.
Michel Gerber, from the Federal Office of Public Health, said all punishments should be proportionate to the incident - implying that individuals are unlikely to receive such a high fine.
As reported by Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes, the higher fines are more likely to be levied against business owners and event organisers.