More civil servants may be told to get jabs or tests

Carrie Lam says the government is considering whether to require more government workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19, or face compulsory tests at their own expense.

At a Legco question and answer session on Thursday, Lam said Hong Kong has more than 177,000 civil servants, and the government has already told some 64,000 of them who have frontline duties to get vaccinated.

More than 70 percent of the frontline civil servants have had the jabs, with the rest undergoing regular Covid-19 tests, the CE said.

But Lam said the government is now looking at expanding these requirements to other staff, including teachers and those who work with the elderly.

“To further expand the scope, then the rate will further improve, and we are thinking of asking people to pay for their regular tests. We need to provide the carrot and the stick, you can call it an incentive or a penalty, this is our strategy,” she said.

In response to a question from DAB legislator Ann Chiang regarding making vaccinations compulsory, Lam said the government has not done this because it would be “bound to cause controversy”.

The CE said there have been demonstrations against mandatory vaccinations in Europe, with the protesters saying they should be free to decide whether they get a jab or not.

“I can’t say that we’ll adopt an entirely mandatory approach with no alternative, because I’m afraid that would backfire. But we will keep monitoring the situation to see whether at some stage we need to take more stringent measures to ensure that we can build up this vaccine firewall.”