Coronavirus: Which Swiss cantons are fining people who don’t respect lockdown rules?

More than 2,000 fines have been given out across Switzerland for breaching coronavirus restrictions. Here’s where the authorities have been particularly trigger happy.

Coronavirus: Which Swiss cantons are fining people who don't respect lockdown rules?

Switzerland has introduced a relatively modest fine of CHF100 for anyone caught breaking coronavirus restrictions. With only around 2,000 fines handed out it's certainly a far cry from France, where over half a million members of the public have been hit with fines that now begin at €135.

However, like everything in Switzerland, the likelihood of getting fined appears to differ dramatically from canton to canton. 

What we know about the victims of the coronavirus pandemic in Switzerland

Everyone in Switzerland is required to keep social distance from others while in public, to stay home other than for certain activities and to not meet in groups of more than five people when heading outside. 

Since the weekend of April 4th and 5th however, police have been “on the offensive” as reported in Swiss newspaper 20 Minutes – with a view towards discouraging people from going outside and breaching the regulations in the Easter weather. 

Vaud handing out the most penalties 

The western Swiss canton of Vaud, which has seen the greatest number of coronavirus infections and the second-highest number of deaths, has so far handed out by far the most fines of anywhere in Switzerland. 

Police in the canton told 20 Minutes that they had already issued more than 1,300 fines, either for people gathering in groups of more than five or for people not respecting the two-metre social distance requirement. 

The canton has also had almost 200 reports from members of the public who have observed someone breaking the rules. 

German-speaking Switzerland

Although German-speaking Switzerland has been less hard hit than French or Italian-speaking Switzerland, the police have been active. 

Police in Lucerne have issued more than 500 fines in total, while police in Basel City have handed out more than 400. 

St Gallen has issued more than 200 fines. 

Police in Basel Country and Aargau have not released figures but have indicated they are currently ramping up efforts to ensure the fines are adhered to. 

Zurich and Bern do not provide figures indicating how many fines have been handed out. 


Ticino – the canton where the most people have died in Switzerland – may have put in place heavy restrictions in order to halt the impact of the coronavirus early, but police action in the southern canton is comparatively rare. 

Only 150 fines have been issued in Ticino.

The first person to die in Switzerland was a man in Ticino on March 5th. The canton as at April 9th has 219 deaths – just under a quarter of the total in Switzerland despite having only four percent of the population. 

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What to do if you haven’t yet received your Swiss health insurance card

Switzerland is late in issuing health insurance cards for new policy holders or those who have switched their providers at the end of 2022. What should you do if you need medical help before your new card arrives?

What to do if you haven’t yet received your Swiss health insurance card

When you buy a health insurance policy in Switzerland from any of the dozens of approved providers, you will receive a credit card-sized card to be used as proof of insurance. Aside from your name, date of birth, and AHV / AVS number, the card also includes the name of your insurance company, client number, and the date of validity.

You will have to present this card each time you seek medical treatment that is included under the obligatory KVG / LaMal scheme.

Residents of Switzerland are allowed to change their compulsory health insurance coverage from one provider to another by November 30th, to go into effect from January of the following year.

The sharp increase in the cost of the health insurance in 2023 — 6.6 percent on average, but higher in some cantons — has prompted many people to look for cheaper options and change their carriers.

READ MORE: Millions of Swiss residents switch health insurance amid rising costs

This massive switch has caused a backlog in the production of new insurance cards, which means that many policy holders have not yet received theirs.

The cards for all insurance carriers are issued by a subsidiary of the Santésuisse health insurance association, whose spokesperson, Manuel Ackermann, said that the delay is caused by the “extraordinarily large number” — three times as many as in an average year — of switches.

He did not specify how much longer is needed to issue and send out all the cards.

What should you do if you haven’t yet received your card?

Say you need medical help, or another situation arises where proof of health insurance is needed — for instance, if you are applying for a new job or registering in a new municipality.

In such cases, you can present the insurance certificate letter your carrier has issued when you took up your policy.

While not having an insurance card is a minor inconvenience in Switzerland, where such a certificate can be used in the interim, it could be more of a problem when travelling in the European Union.

Under normal circumstances, if you fall ill in the EU, all you have do is present your Swiss card, which is equivalent to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This way, you can be treated and the bill will go directly to your Swiss insurance company.

However, absence of the card could mean that hospitals in those countries may not recognise the insurance certificate alone, and require Swiss residents to pay for medical care on the spot.

While not an ideal situation, you can submit the bill, along with all the required documents such as details of your treatment, to your insurer in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Reader question: Can my Swiss health insurance refuse to pay my medical bills?