Expatica news

Provide free masks for the poor, say welfare groups

Charities and welfare organisations in Switzerland have warned that many underprivileged people can’t afford to buy face masks to protect against coronavirus.

The national association of welfare groups on Wednesday urged local authorities to provide welfare beneficiaries with free hygiene masks.

The association, which represents state-run and private services, said the cost of masks was too much of a financial strain on the health budgets of poorer people, amounting to some CHF40 ($42.5) per month.

Some of the more than 2,000 municipalities in Switzerland say they are following the recommendation by the welfare association, or they that they are willing to increase the welfare payments.

The church charity Caritas says it is handing out free masks to customers in its shops.

A report by public radio SRF has found that a single mask might cost up to CHF0.7 in major retail shops.

Protective masks have become mandatory in public transport across the country since the beginning of the week, following months of debate over the effectiveness of face coverings to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

swissinfo.ch with Keystone-SDA and SRF/ug