Covid-19: Zurich schools extend mask mandate

Zurich authorities have extended the mask mandate for schools until the end of February.

A student wearing a mask standing outside a school building
Zurich has extended the mask rules in schools until the end of February. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

On Tuesday, January 18th, Zurich authorities extended the school mask mandate until February 27th. 

The government presumes the number of infections will continue to rise in the canton in the coming weeks and wanted to take appropriate steps to ensure teachers, children and their families are as safe as possible. 

Infection rates have continued to climb in Switzerland in recent weeks, with new records being set almost daily. 

Daily infections crossed the 20,000 mark for the first time in early January 2022, before crossing 30,000 in a 24-hour period several times later in the month. 

On January 11th, Zurich authorities warned of 40,000 infections in the canton alone in late January. 

‘40,000 cases daily in Zurich’ as authorities warn of triage for the unvaccinated

What are the current rules for masks in Zurich schools? 

All teachers and support staff in the canton of Zurich are required to wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

Students must also wear masks from the first primary class and above. 

Each school in Zurich, Switzerland’s most populous canton, is required to have its own hygiene and safety concept which lays out exactly how students will be protected from Covid. 

The rules are laid out here by the Zurich Cantonal Government. 

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Meals, commuting and ‘home office’: What can you claim on tax in Zurich?

Working from home has been mandatory in Zurich for much of the past tax year. What can you claim on tax - and what costs do you have to bear yourself?

Meals, commuting and 'home office': What can you claim on tax in Zurich?

On Thursday, February 17th, the Swiss government rolled back the working from home recommendation, meaning that working from home was purely up to employers for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

Technological advances and the enduring legacy of the pandemic will see working from home – known in German as ‘Home Office’ – become more common in several industries in the coming years, which has clear tax implications. 

These can be relatively complex, particularly as many of the tax rules are in place at a cantonal level. 

Here’s an overview of what you can claim in Zurich – and what you cannot – when it comes to working from home. 

For a general guide on tax rules in Switzerland when it comes to working from home, check out the following link.

Reader question: Can I deduct working-from-home costs from my Swiss taxes?

Don’t live in Zurich – or want to know what costs other than working from home you can deduct? Check out the following extensive guide. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

What tax deductions can I have working from home in Zurich? 

Along with Zug, Geneva and Basel (both City and Country), Zurich allows residents to claim professional expenses as they would in a normal year, i.e. despite the Covid pandemic.

This means that you can claim meal costs and transport to work, even if you worked from home during this time. 

You can claim up to CHF15 per day, or 3,200 francs per year in Zurich. 

If you employer offers subsidised meals, you can claim a maximum of CHF7.50 per day (or CHF1,600)

Regarding transport costs, you can deduct up to CHF3,000 per year for your commute. 

This includes public transport, bicycles and mopeds. 

If you travel by private car, you can only deduct this if it is difficult to take public transport.

This is deemed to be the case if both your home and workplace are more than a kilometre from the nearest public transport stop, or if more than one hour is saved by travelling by car (per day). 

If you are unable to travel by public transport due to an injury, then you are permitted to deduct your car expenses. 

What about rent, electricity and other working-from-home expenses? 

While several Swiss cantons allow you to claim expenses of working from home like rent, electricity etc, Zurich authorities have expressly ruled this out. 

As the above costs (transport and meal allowances) have been kept in place, this is seen as a form of compromise. 

Taxpayers in Zurich are also able to claim the flat-rate deduction for all professional costs associated with working from home that are not covered by the employer, although this is only in relatively narrow scenarios. 

“This solution is advantageous for most taxpayers” say Zurich cantonal authorities. 

As with all our tax reports, this is intended as a guide only and should not take the place of qualified tax advice. More Zurich-specific information is available at this link.