Holidays for civil servants appear to be enticing incentive

Top News | Jane Cheung 26 May 2021

Vaccinated civil servants could be given holidays, Carrie Lam says.

But the chief executive added it would be inappropriate for the government to offer cash or gifts as vaccination incentives as these "may cause the opposite effect under current circumstances."

Lam rejected a suggestion at a press briefing yesterday on offering economic incentives amid a sluggish 19 percent inoculation rate in the city after three months.

"We think economic incentives are better if they are provided by private institutions and their employers, while the government can offer incentives in the form of policies," she said.

Still, Lam said, as Hong Kong's biggest employer - with over 177,000 civil servants - she will consider allowing holidays for vaccinated civil servants.

But Lam did not specify how many days off the inoculated staff would get or whether those who have already taken the jabs would also benefit from the measure.

"Hopefully we can announce more details in due course," she said.

Lam also encouraged private companies to help raise the uptake rate, so they can eventually benefit from boosted retail sales.

"Not only does vaccination protect yourself and others, but it will also help society return to normal and make long-awaited traveling hopes come true as soon as possible."

Vaccine hesitancy is also an issue abroad. So much so that in the US city of Ohio those who have received at least one dose of vaccine can enter lotteries to win a US$1 million (HK$7.8 million) prize.

In Europe, Serbia is offering cash payments of about HK$250 to each person who has received the first jab by the end of the month.

Lam also said that Hong Kong and mainland authorities are "working very closely and have very frequent communications" regarding reopening the border.

"I would also say that Guangdong, like ourselves, is very keen to be able to resume some normal travel as soon as possible," she said.

Although mainland officials have not set rigid requirements for border reopening, Lam said it is linked with vaccination uptake and Hong Kong's Covid-19 situation.

She said the inoculation rate has risen significantly in the mainland, with more than 500 million doses administered so far.

She added: "The mainland will require [Hongkongers] entering the mainland to be vaccinated."

Lam said outbreaks in Hong Kong must remain well contained and that the city hopefully achieves "zero infection" from unknown local sources.

Hong Kong yesterday saw two new cases from unknown sources, bringing its overall tally to 11,836, including 210 deaths.

One of them is a 37-year-old Filipino helper who arrived from the Philippines on March 20. She tested negative during her quarantine and the first round of mandatory test for domestic helpers early this month. But she tested positive in the second round on Saturday.

She was carrying the more infectious South African mutant strain.

The other case is a 43-year-old Pakistani construction worker who arrived from his country on March 16.

He works at the Tseung Kwan O-Lam Tin tunnel and lives in Shek Wah House, Shek Lei (II) Estate, Kwai Chung.

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