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HEALTH

Switzerland: Should binational couples get priority access to coronavirus vaccine?

A Swiss health expert has suggested binational couples be treated ‘as a risk group’, thereby getting access to the first wave of coronavirus vaccinations.

Switzerland: Should binational couples get priority access to coronavirus vaccine?
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Dr. Daniel Christen, a professor of Health, Safety and Environmental Protection, has said that unmarried binational couples – many of whom are unable to visit each other due to coronavirus restrictions – be among the first wave of vaccinations. 

Speaking with Swiss daily 20 Minutes, Christen said giving priority to binational couples was “of great importance” to physical and mental well-being. 

“Unmarried binational couples should consult with a psychologist or psychiatrist and receive a certificate which allows them to be vaccinated together with the risk group,” Christen said.  

“Otherwise, in extreme cases, this means a separation of the partner or possible children, from one to two years. This long waiting period endangers the mental health of both partners. Many become depressed or even have suicidal thoughts. That must not be.”

Currently, Switzerland’s vaccine strategy outlines plans to vaccinate healthcare workers along with older people and those with health conditions as a first priority. 

There is no prioritisation for binational couples, whether married or unmarried. 

READ: Switzerland agrees to open borders to unmarried couples 

Christen said his opinion was influenced by his own experiences. 

“A prioritisation for these suffering people is therefore of great importance. I myself have not seen my partner for over a year, because the visa departments of Swiss embassies are closed overseas. 

“I can't visit my partner either, as the country is still completely banned from entering the country. I assume that the authorities will only allow vaccinated people back into the country later.”

While Switzerland has allowed unmarried couples to reunite since August, this is often difficult – particularly when the non-Swiss resident partner needs to fly with a stopover. 

As reported in 20 Minutes, non-Swiss resident partners are frequently stopped and turned back when attempting to come to Switzerland. 

The Swiss State Secretariat for Migration recommends unmarried couples fly directly to Switzerland when attempting to reunite, however this is not always possible from all locations. 

 

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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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