Pen memo a welcome move

It is highly ironic that in places where Covid vaccines are scarce locals are lining up to get the shots, while in Hong Kong stocks - including the sought-after BioNTech - are left in storage to await expiry It's mystifying that all but around a fifth of the population have failed to foresee the...

Mary Ma

Friday, June 11, 2021

It is highly ironic that in places where Covid vaccines are scarce locals are lining up to get the shots, while in Hong Kong stocks - including the sought-after BioNTech - are left in storage to await expiry

It's mystifying that all but around a fifth of the population have failed to foresee the need to get vaccinated before a new major outbreak.

It is only a matter of time before any defense reliant on social distancing will collapse - and it will be too late to regret not getting the jabs when everyone still has the luxury of choosing which vaccine to have.

In this light, the anger expressed by Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels chief operating officer Peter Borer in a memo that many staff at the group's Peninsula Hong Kong hotel were not yet vaccinated was entirely understandable.

Borer said he hopes the hotel would reach an uptake rate of 70 percent by the end of the month, otherwise staff would face stringent cost-saving measures, which may include layoffs.

And his push should be appreciated. Inevitably, Borer's memo was criticized by some. However, it contained a summary of crude facts that are relevant not only to The Peninsula but also its hospitality peers here and around the world.

Hospitality services are open and guest-oriented. Unlike other jobs that can be done over the phone or via computer, hotel services must be in-person.

So Alex Tsui Hau-lai of the Hong Kong Hotel Employees Union should not require Borer to explain to him that a guest would feel assured knowing that those at the concierge or responsible for cleaning rooms are protected by vaccines. Tsui should know that if staff are immunity-protected, they also protect the guests.

It's true that, just as the hotel chain boss insisted, this has nothing to do with local politics. It's a public-health matter.

To me, it is rather absurd that so many incentives have to be offered merely to get people to get a shot in the arm.

Scientific data is so abundant that, after hundreds of millions of doses administered worldwide, the efficacies of some vaccines - including that of the BioNTech which is available in Hong Kong - are profoundly proven despite some side-effects that are negligible compared to the consequences of having Covid.

Latest UK data can prove this. In areas like Manchester and Lancashire where local outbreaks of the Delta variant - formerly known as the Indian mutant - were reported, most of the new cases occurred in the 20-29 age group in which most people have yet to be vaccinated.

In contrast, increases in those with one dose and two doses have been moderate and gentle.

The contrast reveals that fully vaccinated people are much less transmissible and seldom require hospitalization.

Incidentally, the only compensation the UK population has had is one or two days off if suffering from side effects.

It is misleading for Tsui to slam The Peninsula's management over the memo. Surely he is aware that the hotel will have to lay off employees one way or another if business fails to rebound?

In asking his staff to get vaccinated, Borer is trying to save their jobs.