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Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021

Enough is enough: set date to reopen Hong Kong

Enough is enough: set date to reopen Hong Kong

If Hongkongers worry fully vaccinated travellers might still carry the virus, they should take responsibility for themselves and get vaccinated. City cannot stay closed indefinitely because some people do not want to help protect the community by getting vaccinated.

In recent weeks it feels like the government has become paralysed as far as evolving policies to reflect the actual pandemic situation in the city. Anyone monitoring the new case reports can see the truth – the disease has basically been eradicated in the city.

We are going weeks without new locally transmitted cases. Any new cases are imported and quickly isolated, or they are rare leaks in the firewall causing an infection or two that are also typically associated with incoming travellers and quickly snuffed out. Yet, we all continue to sweat away behind our masks under the oppressive summer sun.

The government actually reacted to successful containment results and loosened measures after the first and second waves. Now, for weeks, it seems the government is holding the populace hostage with the demand we first need to reach herd immunity on vaccinations before it relaxes measures, even if these measures are completely unnecessary in a largely Covid-free city.

I have written in before about how the appeal of lucky draws is limited, how easier international travel would be a better incentive to encourage more people to get vaccinated and how anti-vaxxers are misjudging long-term risks.

I think now the government needs to be more bold and assertive. It is time to announce a date that Hong Kong will reopen to fully vaccinated international visitors who can enter without quarantine provided they were tested before flying and provide proof of vaccination.

Hongkongers have had more than enough time to get vaccinated. If they worry fully vaccinated travellers might still carry the virus and risk a new wave of local infections, they should use this reopening date as yet another reason to take responsibility for themselves and get vaccinated before visitors start arriving.

If they do not and get infected down the road, they will have no one to blame but themselves. We cannot keep the doors closed indefinitely because some people do not want to do their part to protect the community by getting vaccinated.

We cannot remain paralysed forever. Hong Kong is an international city whose economy is linked to international trade, and each month that passes without it reassuming its position in the world damages its role and reputation. Use the power of a clear reopening date announcement to provide the final boost to the flagging inoculation rates and get Hong Kong open for business again.

Mark Pavey, Sai Wan Ho

Change travel policy to help city businesses

I believe Hong Kong needs to immediately change its border policy and open its doors on a staggered basis with the mainland, India, the Philippines, Britain and all countries in the high-risk category. They can maintain quarantine and rigorous testing protocols but we should not have an outright travel ban. The business world is reopening now, and we need to be open for travel (“Offer clear data to back up Hong Kong’s 21-day hotel quarantine”, July 16).

There are lots of small businesses and entrepreneurs who will be even more impacted soon. Online work and Zoom do not work when the disruptions are all year round. We need to travel to high-risk countries and have the ability to return.

Rishi Teckchandani, Mid-Levels

Time to make the selfish pay for delay

Enough is enough. We have an issue of grave significance on our hands and the government needs to promptly address this. The continued inaction by those not vaccinated is holding Hong Kong’s economic vibrancy and prosperity for ransom, as well as the ability for those who are vaccinated to move towards normalising our lives.

Yes, we can still catch Covid-19 post-vaccination, but the health complications are much less severe than if one is not vaccinated. To get us to herd immunity faster, the government must act now.

First, with immediate effect all those not vaccinated must undergo testing twice a week with a charge of HK$750 (US$97) per test. Second, those who have not received their first vaccination after 30 days will be charged HK$1,250 per test. Third, anyone failing to be tested twice a week will pay a HK$5,000 penalty. Fourth, anyone not vaccinated who catches the virus and requires hospitalisation will be personally responsible for the full cost of treatment.

It is time for us to stop pandering to the selfish and get on with life, or at least stop wearing a mask everywhere.

Covid-19 will always be with us, as are the flu, common cold, measles, and so on. We need to learn to live with it but not let it stop our living.

Money is an unbalanced motivator in our city, and it is time for the administration to take advantage of this cultural trait for some good results.

Simon Constantinides, Pok Fu Lam


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