Covid-19 vaccination rate surges in Hong Kong after news of restaurant ban for the unvaccinated

Food is a motivator.

Lean Jinghui | January 12, 2022, 10:06 PM

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In Hong Kong, vaccination numbers received a big boost for the first time in months after a new rule was announced in early January 2022: Banning the unvaccinated from entering restaurants, leisure venues, and schools.

Surge in elderly getting vaccinated

Following the announcement, one elderly man told a reporter from The Standard that he had been prompted to get vaccinated out of fear that he would not be able to go "yum cha" in Chinese restaurants anymore.

"Yum cha" is enjoyed by many Hong Kongers, and typically involves the consumption of dim sum and hot tea at Chinese restaurants in the morning or early afternoon.

Hong Kong media reports captured long queues and crowded vaccination centres over the past two weekends, as many rushed to get jabbed before the new rules kicked in.

According to The Washington Post, a fear of side effects, allergic reactions and death were the main reason many elderly people in Hong Kong had initially been reluctant to take their Covid-19 vaccines.

"Dim sum ban"

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam had confirmed on Jan. 4 that the policy would be rolled out on Feb. 24, a month later than originally intended.

Hong Kong's Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee had earlier announced Jan. 2 that the new policy would take effect before Chinese New Year on Feb. 1, reported The Standard.

However, Lam had said such a move would come too quickly for affected industries, especially the catering industry, as well as residents who had yet to take their first jab.

“The government also needs time to solve technical problems to assist such venues in checking citizens’ vaccination records in a more convenient way,” she explained.

Under the new policy, it will be a requirement for people entering restaurants and public venues to have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

They will be barred from entry unless they can prove they are medically unfit for jabs.

The term "dim sum ban" was subsequently coined by SCMP in a commentary on the situation.

As of Jan. 12, 2022, about 69.9 per cent of the Hong Kong population has received two vaccine doses, while about 75 per cent have received at least one dose.

The percentage of those vaccinated with at least one dose falls further to 53.45 per cent for those aged 70 to 79 years, and is at 25.36 per cent for those aged 80 and above.

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