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HEALTH

Switzerland lifts quarantine rules for most travellers from abroad

Switzerland on Wednesday amended its quarantine rules. Now, only four countries - and regions of another - are considered ‘high risk’ areas requiring a quarantine.

Switzerland lifts quarantine rules for most travellers from abroad
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Swiss authorities announced on Wednesday new measures to rein in skyrocketing coronavirus cases in the country, and acknowledged that it no longer made sense for most travellers to the country to quarantine.

But while introducing stricter rules for mask-wearing and crowd sizes, the government also said it would lift the requirement for people arriving from a long line of countries to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Switzerland or risk a $10,000-fine.

Switzerland has until now put countries and regions on its “red list” for quarantining once Covid-19 infection rates there passed more than 60 per 100,000 people for a period of 14 days.

But in recent weeks, the country itself has seen its own infection rate gallop past that mark and has over 760 cases for 100,000 people for the past two weeks.

That makes the country one of the hardest-hit in Europe, making it pointless to impose quarantines on people arriving from less-impacted regions.

According to Switzerland’s new quarantine rules, only Belgium, the Czech Republic, Andorra and Armenia – along with three regions of France, including Paris – are considered high risk. 

In France, the Hauts-de-France and ÎIe de France / Paris regions as well as the overseas territory of French Polynesia are considered to be risk zones.

 

 

The announcement is a significant change from the country’s previous quarantine rules, where dozens of countries and regions of countries were considered to be high risk. 

READ: Switzerland announces sweeping new Covid-19 restrictions 

The duration of the quarantine will however remain at ten days. 

The federal government said the “radical” change of course was due to rising infection rates all across the world. 

How are countries deemed high risk? 

Only countries or regions whose rate per 100,000 inhabitants exceeds by 60 that recorded in Switzerland would be placed on the red list.

As at Wednesday, October 28th, Switzerland’s infection rate per 100,000 residents is 693. 

This means that this figure should be 753 (693 + 60).

Only the four countries mentioned above – along with the regions of France indicated – are above this figure. 

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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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