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‘Falling through the cracks’: How foreigners are getting vaccinated in Switzerland

A number of foreigners have received their coronavirus shots while vacationing in Switzerland. How they managed to do so remains a mystery.

‘Falling through the cracks’: How foreigners are getting vaccinated in Switzerland
How some foreigners got a Covid vaccine in Switzerland is a mystery. JACOB KING / POOL / AFP

Only residents and cross-border workers — in other words, those who have Swiss health insurance —are eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines in Switzerland. 

But according to recent news reports in Swiss media, some foreigners managed to get their jabs in Valais and Graubünden. They were mostly tourists on holidays in ski resorts or foreigners who own second homes in the two cantons.

READ MORE: Can foreigners get vaccinated for Covid-19 in Switzerland?

“Some foreigners did fall through the cracks”, a spokesperson for the health department in Valais told Nau.ch, adding they were predominantly Italians, Dutch, British and French citizens.

It is not clear why these people were not spotted and turned away.

The online appointment platform in both cantons asks for the number of the health insurance policy, without which it is impossible to register.

And upon arrival at the vaccination centre, the person must present their Swiss insurance card. Failure to do so should have sounded an alarm among the personnel.

Reader question: Can I get the coronavirus vaccine in a different Swiss canton to where I live?

When the breaches were finally discovered, cantons started vetting registration forms more thoroughly. Since then, Valais ‘caught’ 250 foreign residents on its appointment platform and removed them from the list.

The phenomenon is not new. At the beginning of March, 165 people living abroad were registered on Geneva’s vaccine website. 

A busload of people from Italy was turned away from one of the canton’s vaccination centres before they could get their shots.

The only exception to the rule  are foreign healthcare workers employed in Swiss hospitals. They can get vaccinated in Switzerland, even without Swiss insurance.

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COVID-19

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?

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