Switzerland starts debt collection process against citizens repatriated due to Covid

A Swiss flight takes off at Geneva Airport
Switzerland spent more than seven million francs repatriating citizens in the first wave of the Covid pandemic. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
The Swiss government has started debt collection proceedings to recover almost half a million francs spent on Covid repatriations.

Swiss authorities have begun debt collections against people who were flown back to the country at the government’s expense at the start of the pandemic. 

More than 90 percent of the money spent by the government in the repatriation flights – or 6.9 million of an estimated 7.5 million francs – has been recovered. 

In March and April of 2020, Switzerland started repatriating Swiss citizens from across the globe as the seriousness of the Covid pandemic became clear. 

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The process – which involved 35 charter flights – was the largest repatriation in Swiss history, bringing 4,200 people back home. 

While the government indicated it would take on around ten percent of the costs, the rest was to be paid by passengers. 

The government has sent out 1,700 invoices to recoup its costs. 

While the amount was initially more than half a million francs, the government has written off close to 200,000CHF. 

The government hopes to collect the remaining 380,000 via debt collection procedures. An estimated 367 invoices remain outstanding. 

A government spokesperson confirmed to Watson on Monday that this was made additionally complex by the fact that many of those who owe money live abroad. 

“A collection process is usually lengthy,” EDA spokesman Pierre-Alain Eltschinger said. 

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