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HEALTH

Valais implements ‘Switzerland’s strictest’ lockdown measures as infection rates skyrocket

The southern Swiss canton of Valais has been the latest to put in place stricter lockdown requirements in the wake of spiralling coronavirus infections.

Valais implements 'Switzerland's strictest' lockdown measures as infection rates skyrocket
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

From midnight on Thursday, October 22nd, Valais will put in place a range of strict new lockdown requirements. 

According to Swiss daily 20 Minutes, these are the toughest lockdown regulations in the country to date

Pursuant to the rules, bars, nightclubs and brothels will no longer be allowed to open. 

‘Entertainment facilities’ will also be forced to close, including cinemas, theatres, museums, libraries, public swimming pools and bathing facilities and bowling alleys. 

MAPS: Where are Switzerland's emerging coronavirus hotspots?

Restaurants may stay open only until 10pm each night. 

Masks are required in all workplaces at all times. 

Public and private events with more than ten people will be banned, the government confirmed on Wednesday

All sports other than professional sports will be banned, other than individual training. Professional sports will now take place behind closed doors. 

All visits to hospitals and nursing homes will be suspended until the end of the lockdown, while schools at the tertiary level will move to distance learning. 

On Wednesday, 897 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Valais alone – 16 percent of Switzerland’s total cases across the period. 

Valais has only four percent of the total Swiss population. 

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HEALTH

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
 

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