UPDATED: Switzerland extends free testing deadline

UPDATED: Switzerland extends free testing deadline
Soon the unvaccinated will have to pay for the tests themselves, Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP.
The Swiss government has announced it would cover the cost of Covid screening for unvaccinated residents longer than originally planned.

In August, the Federal Council announced that from October 1 all unvaccinated people would have to pay 50 francs for their own Covid tests. President Guy Parmelin explained this move by saying vaccinated taxpayers should not have to pay for testing for those who choose not to get inoculated.

Switzerland ends free Covid testing: Everything you need to know

In the colder months, the number of tests is expected to rise to 1 million a week, the Federal Council said.

“This corresponds to around 47 million francs a week, which would have to be borne by the federal government if the financing of test costs were to be extended indefinitely”.

However, on Friday the government extended the deadline to October 10th to encourage more people to get their shots.

Authorities also decided to continue paying for tests until November 30th for people who receive the first dose of the vaccine, but are not yet eligible for the Covid certificate.

“This ensures that people who need a little more time to decide whether or not to get vaccinated will not incur any costs”, the Federal Council said.

READ MORE: Reader question: I can’t get vaccinated. How do I get Switzerland’s Covid certificate?

The decision was made even though “the 10-day extension is estimated to result in additional costs of around 160 million francs”.

And “extending the period until the end of November is likely to cost a further 120 million francs”.

The ultimate goal of the paid testing strategy is to boost the number of vaccinations.

“Switzerland is facing a difficult winter due to the low vaccination coverage among the population”, authorities said.

“Although the number of infections and hospital admissions has fallen in recent weeks, overall numbers are still high. When social life moves back indoors in the coming months, circulation of the virus is likely to increase again. This will once again place additional strain on hospitals. Only a significant increase in the vaccination rate will make it possible to further curb the circulation of the virus”, they added. 

READ MORE: Covid-19 in Switzerland: The situation is improving, but will it last?

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