Should coronavirus masks be made free for those in need in Switzerland?

Should coronavirus masks be made free for those in need in Switzerland?
A railway employee hands out free masks. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Several cantons have started handing out face masks to people in need - should this be embraced across the country?

Masks are now required on public transport and in shops and nightlife venues in some cantons. 

With many residents of Switzerland already struggling to make ends meet, the additional costs of masks have placed additional pressure on some of the country’s neediest residents. 

The head of social work group Avenir 50 in Basel told Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes that some of the cantons poorer residents have already said they plan to walk rather than take public transport as they can’t afford face masks. 

‘Cheaper than supermarkets': How Geneva plans to get coronavirus masks to every resident 

A box of 50 disposable masks costs approximately CHF35 francs in Switzerland, while reusable masks cost more. 

Free masks for those in need?

The Caritas relief organisation has started distributing free protective masks to those in poverty, while everyone who shops at a Caritas location will receive a free mask. 

In addition, social authorities in several cantons have made some masks available for some of the more vulnerable members of Swiss society. 

READ: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's new compulsory mask requirement 

In Basel, the Basel Social Department will distribute 7,000 masks to welfare recipients and other people in need. 

Several municipalities in the canton of Zurich have also started a similar scheme by reimbursing all social welfare recipients for the money spent on masks if they can show a receipt.

Similar schemes have been developed in cantons of Zug and Aargau, although there is as yet no plan to do so at a federal level.  


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