Switzerland promises lockdown measures unless infections subside

Switzerland's president has promised the country would adopt additional lockdown measures unless skyrocketing new coronavirus case numbers slowed.

Switzerland promises lockdown measures unless infections subside
Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland's coronavirus case numbers are now doubling from week to week. 

If the situation does not stabilise within days, the government is threatening to impose new measures to control the surge in registered infections, which began around the start of the month.

“If the curve does not flatten out by next Wednesday, we will really make decisions that go further,” President Simonetta Sommaruga told national broadcaster RTS.

The southwest of the country has been particularly affected, with clusters breaking out in retirement homes. “We were all hoping we could go into winter without this new increase in the number of cases,” said Sommaruga.

Despite acknowledging pandemic fatigue, she urged the public to take the initiative. “We know how to protect ourselves with social distancing, masks and hygiene.

“If everyone participates, we will get there. It's a question of responsibility and solidarity.”

Landlocked Switzerland reopened its borders with France, Germany, Italy and Austria in mid-June.

“I've spoken to my counterparts in neighbouring countries and we will do everything to avoid closing the borders again,” Sommaruga said. 

'Changing very quickly' 

Health Minister Alain Berset said on Wednesday that hospitalisations and deaths were tracking the rise in cases. He said the government would look at measures affecting public places and gatherings of people.

“The situation is changing very quickly,” he said.

Switzerland was not hit as hard by Covid-19 deaths and did not impose as strict a lockdown as some other European states in the spring. On June 1, Switzerland registered just three new cases.

But infections then started to rise — first slowly, then more rapidly during October.

Thursday's figures showed there were 5,230 new cases registered in the past 24 hours, in the country of 8.5 million people.

A total of 96,731 cases have been registered in Switzerland since the start of the pandemic, and 1,866 deaths.

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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.