Ban of Asian exhibitors at Basel Show is upheld

A last-ditch attempt to reopen the Basel World Watch and Jewelry Show to exhibitors from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singapore failed because show management, in a statement issued Thursday, deemed the additional health precautions to be “unrealistic and impractical.”

A total of 383 Asian exhibitors—12% of total exhibitors—were suddenly barred from the show April 2, a day before it opened, by the Swiss government’s health office in an attempt to minimize the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)—the pneumonia-like illness has come out of China through Hong Kong and has been diagnosed in a number countries around the world.

MCH Swiss Exhibition Ltd., which owns and operates the Basel Show, worked out a deal with the Swiss government and the Swiss health office to allow the banned exhibitors and their staff to return to the show, which for the first is being held in two locations (Basel and Zurich).

Under the terms of the deal, management would have been responsible to provide all of the Asian delegations with the following:

* Daily health checks by a qualified medical practitioner before entering show sites;
* Certification, to be worn by each person, stating that they passed the medical requirements;
* Masks to be worn and changed every four hours while at the show;
* The daily disinfecting of all displays and booths; and
* Translators for delegates of each country to communicate the instructions.

Show management said the new measures would involve screening a minimum of 5,000 people in two locations and would still be under constant review by the Swiss government and its health office. Show management said it concluded that it lacked the time to comply with the new measures.

“We have looked at every possible way of carrying out these new instructions and have realized that the level of responsibility to organize and ensure that these measures are correctly applied, are totally unrealistic and impractical,” Rene Kamm, MCH Swiss Exhibition CEO, said in a statement. “Even if it had been possible to find the health and medical resources required, the earliest possible date by which this could have been put in place would have been Sunday April, 6 (the show runs till April 10). We realize that this decision has a massive impact on the exhibitors and personnel concerned, for which we have no other choice.”