As of Saturday, December 18th, individual antigen and pooled PCR tests are free in Switzerland.
As part of the raft of new measures and rules announced on December 17th, the Swiss government again pledged to cover the costs for Covid tests, making testing now free in most instances.
Testing was free throughout much of the summer, however the government stopped covering the costs of the tests from early October in order to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Are self-tests now free again?
Self-tests – otherwise known as at-home tests which were available in pharmacies – are not covered by the regulation and are therefore not free.
The regulation sought to make testing free which would be relevant for the Covid certificate, i.e. tests for people with the 2G-Plus rule.
As self-tests are not sufficient here, they are not covered.
While these will still be available from pharmacies – and are increasingly popular ahead of Christmas gatherings – anyone wanting to use one will need to cover the costs themselves.
Why is some testing free again?
Switzerland’s Covid situation has worsened in recent weeks, with higher case rates than ever and fuller ICUs than ever.
Testing allows infected people to be identified and isolate, thereby slowing the spread of the virus.
While those who have been vaccinated will have a less severe course of the symptoms, they can still catch and spread the virus in some cases.
One of the major reasons the government decided to stop covering the costs of tests back in October was in order to encourage vaccination.
As a result of the October change, people who were unvaccinated but were getting tested regularly in order to have a Covid certificate would need to pay the costs of the tests themselves.
Under the rules in effect as at December 18th, people can no longer get a negative test for the Covid certificate, so the incentive to vaccinate is still there.
Another major reason for the change was the cost of testing, which was estimated at four million francs per day.
As yet, it is unclear as to what the daily costs of covering the tests will now be, given that it is expected fewer people will get tested as the tests no longer confer a Covid certificate.