Switzerland Has Given an Eleventh-Hour Reprieve From Costly Additional Testing for Art Basel Visitors Who Received the AstraZeneca Vaccine

From today, all visitors to Switzerland who have received an EMA-approved vaccine will be allowed to obtain a Swiss Covid certificate.

A visitor arrives at the 2019 edition of Art Basel, the last in-person version of the fair. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images.)
A visitor arrives at the 2019 edition of Art Basel, the last in-person version of the fair. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images.)

Art Basel has updated its health and safety advice for fairgoers after Switzerland changed its policy to allow people vaccinated with AstraZeneca outside of the E.U. to get the country’s Covid certificate.

From today, September 20, foreign visitors who were vaccinated abroad with any jab approved by the European Medicines Agency (including AstraZeneca) will be able to obtain the certificate allowing them to enter restaurants and large-scale events, including Art Basel. It is welcome news for fairgoers from the U.K., India, and Israel who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, as previously only vaccines approved for use in Switzerland (AstraZeneca is not yet approved there) were allowed to get the document (with the exception of E.U. citizens, as the country agreed to accept the E.U.’s Covid certificate).

The development comes after visitors who received the jab in the U.K. and elsewhere were frustrated to discover earlier this month that they would have to repeat a rapid lateral flow test—costing CHF37 ($40)—every 48 hours to gain access to the fair, or else pay for a more expensive PCR test every 72 hours.

The fair scrambled to find a solution for exhibitors who were affected by offering to pay for PCR tests that would exempt them from further testing. While most dealers were satisfied with the fair’s solution, the requirement for extra testing was an additional deterrent for foreign visitors who were already hesitant, with London-based art advisor Wendy Goldsmith telling Artnet News that authorities not recognizing the AstraZeneca vaccine was “the last straw” for her in deciding not to attend the fair. 

“We are pleased to inform our visitors to Art Basel in Basel 2021 that in line with new regulations announced by the Swiss Federal Council, as of Monday, September 20, all guests vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be granted access to our halls without the need to test,” a statement from the fair said.

The EMA has approved the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and the AstraZeneca vaccines. 

“Upon presentation of their vaccination certificate at our designated Covid-19 Certification Center, visitors will receive an Art Basel wristband that grants them entry into the fair,” the fair said.

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