Optimism in the air on vaccine rollout

Editorial | Mary Ma 19 Feb 2021

The social mood appeared to have improved yesterday after the government was finally able to confirm when the first Covid jabs will be administered to the public.

It is evident that the easing of social distancing restrictions this time has been greeted with a greater sense of optimism than in the past.

People's belief that they will soon get vaccinated is thought to be a key factor in this new-found optimism.

Despite some previous polls suggesting that only 30 to 40 percent of Hongkongers would come forward to get the jabs, the turnout could be higher than that.

It is more likely than not that, over time, those reluctant due to safety concerns or misunderstanding will come to a better-educated decision and book to be vaccinated.

Perhaps the government can do more to reassure the skeptical mass.

For the first time in as many months, customers are returning to restaurants, beauty salons, fitness centers and even cinemas with greater confidence.

Although a number of them prefer the less convenient paper record to the mobile phone Covid-tracing app, it's a minor issue and should not put the pending recovery off track.

It is absolutely fine as long as people continue to come out of their homes to spend locally. Hopefully, the relaxation is timely enough to save some businesses from going bankrupt.

On the first day of its reopening, the financially battered Ocean Park was buzzing with visitors - a scene the city has missed for far too long.

Hong Kong Disneyland is expected to be equally busy when it reopens today, with tickets available for online booking reportedly snapped up fast.

And queues formed in the lobbies of cinemas as soon as they reopened.

Even though people are now more used to watching movies at home, many prefer to watch the action on the big screen.

The mood has, indeed, changed for the better.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she is waiting to get the mainland's Sinovac vaccine.

This is assuredly part of the PR strategy to assure everyone that it is safe to receive the mainland vaccine.

However, Lam may have to wait a little longer if she is adamant that she will only get the Sinovac jab only and no other. This is because the government expert panel has yet to decide whether to give Sinovac to people of her age.

But, at the end of the day, it does not matter whether people choose Sinovac or BioNTech as long as they are willing to get the jab which will increase the chance of relaxing the pandemic restrictions. Which vaccine to choose? In the end, it is a personal decision.

Having been frustrated by intermittent lockdowns, the community now expects to exit the tunnel quickly without the fear of having to return to it later.

A degree of liveliness has returned since the first day of lockdown relaxation. Hopefully, this time it will be permanent.

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