Yau tempers buzz over jab passports

Top News | Maisy Mok 1 Mar 2021

Edward Yau Tang-wah, secretary for commerce and economic development, has played down expectations for vaccination passports, saying even if it is launched the scope of travel will be limited.

The government is studying a vaccination passport scheme, but Yau said even if people are vaccinated that does not mean they can travel anywhere they want.

But he urged the public to get vaccinated as soon as possible to help Hong Kong achieve herd immunity.

The government will also discuss gradually resuming travel with other regions after reviewing if those places have appropriate virus measures.

Yau failed to give a specific timetable for when the travel bubble with Singapore could be relaunched after it was postponed in November.

"If Hong Kong's epidemic is not in a stable condition, leading the bubble to open and close repeatedly, what will the travelers do? How will they buy tickets? Will they be able to return to Hong Kong according to their designated time planned?" Yau said on radio yesterday.

Yau on Friday said the government does not have the confidence to resume the travel bubble with Singapore immediately due to fluctuations in the number of unknown-source cases.

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing sees the vaccination passport to come in the form of an "injection card" for various regions to confirm the type of jabs an individual has received.

Under the scheme, different regions will have to agree on the types of jabs that they are confident about.

However, Yiu said testing for travelers should continue even after a vaccination passport scheme is launched.

"Although a person who is injected with the vaccine will become immune, such a person could still be a virus carrier," Yiu said.

He said it is too early for Hong Kong to launch a vaccination passport as even local consumption activities have not yet fully resumed.

Some European Union countries already have plans to launch vaccination passports.

Greece, which led the call for the EU-wide vaccination certificate, has agreed to launch a digital "Green Pass" with Israel to ease travel for those who have received two doses.

Hungary will issue a vaccination passport today in the form of cards to people who have had the vaccine or have immunity after recovering.

Yau on the same radio program said Hong Kong's economy is expected to grow by 3.5 to 5.5 percent this year.

He expressed confidence that the economy will be stable in China, Asia and Asean countries but there are still hidden worries about whether the European and American markets can return to normal, which could affect Hong Kong's economy.

maisy.mok@singtaonewcorp.com



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