Hong Kong's slow vaccine uptake has been met with creative calls from the businesses, which are dangling a freebies-packed bonanza package for those who get a Covid jab.
This was revealed by executive council member Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, a day after The Peninsula Hong Kong announced that all staff who can show proof of a Covid-19 jab by end August will receive a HK$2,000 (US$257) cash bonus, two days of paid holidays, and another HK$2,000 doled out if 70% of its hotel staff complete their vaccinations by then.
This holds true for some 5,000 of its hotel staff, as well as for its workforce at the Peak Tram — both owned by billionaire Michael Kadoorie’s Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels (HSH).
Lam, who is also in the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said a host of businesses have agreed to coordinate this bonanza package, and that response has thus far been positive.
No wonder too, since one of the prizes include 500,000 flight ticket — previously purchased by the Airport Authority as a tourism promotion once the pandemic situation eased — for travel to destinations which have the virus under better control, such as Australia and New Zealand.
Other freebies include staycations, buffet deals, free film sessions, and theme park visits.
The Hong Kong government is also speaking to the various sectors, to arrange on-site vaccination services to make it more convenient for staff to receive their jabs.
Cathay Pacific, meanwhile, has made vaccination a prerequisite for staff and crew.
With just 19.1% vaccinated with their first shot, and another 13.6% who have completed the full dose out of a 7.5 million population, the city is a far way off from the 70% needed to reach herd immunity.
The rally to increase Hong Kong's slow vaccine uptake has been an uphill battle, with the matter becoming more pronounced after city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor broached the possibility of resuming travel to mainland China and abroad on 22 May.
Lam and her cabinet have repeatedly indicated that requiring Hongkongers to be vaccinated is a condition of travel — be it for the recently twice-delayed bubble with Singapore, or to even include more destinations into the 'Return2HK' programme.