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Hong Kong plans to relax some COVID-19 rules for fully vaccinated residents

Mon 12th April, 2021 10:35am
HONG KONG, April 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong will loosen some
coronavirus measures for residents who have been fully
inoculated from late April, the city's leader Carrie Lam said on
Monday, as authorities seek to boost the take-up of vaccines in
the global financial hub.
    Bars and pubs, which are currently shut, would be allowed to
resume operations in phases provided all staff and customers had
been vaccinated, she said. Visitation to public hospitals and
care homes could also be permitted for vaccinated people.
    Lam, who was speaking at a press conference on Monday, said
the government was discussing further details and aimed to
loosen measures from April 29. Only residents who receive both
doses of their COVID-19 shot would be eligible. 
    Take-up has been sluggish since the vaccination programme
began in the Chinese special administrative region in February
due lacklustre confidence in China's Sinovac  SVA.O  vaccine 
and fears of adverse reactions. Only around 8% of the city's 7.5
million population have been inoculated so far.
    "We would like to see the vaccination rate go up, at the
moment it is not satisfactory," Lam said. 
    Quarantine periods for fully vaccinated people arriving from
low-risk countries like Australia, Singapore and New Zealand
could be reduced to 7 days from 14 days and to 14 from 21 days
for arrivals from medium-risk countries. She said it was not
clear yet when the relaxation of such quarantine measures would
take place.  
    Hong Kong began vaccinating residents with doses from
Sinovac in February and started offering a vaccine developed by 
BioNTech  22UAy.DE  in March. 
    The BioNTech shot has seen a far greater take-up since its
launch, with two to three times more people booking inoculation
with that shot on a daily basis than for Sinovac, according to
government figures. Residents of Hong Kong can choose which
vaccine they take. 
    Several deaths after vaccinations have also spooked some
residents although the government has said there is no direct
link established between the vaccine and the deaths. 
    The former British colony has recorded more than 11,500
total coronavirus cases, far lower than other developed cities.

 (Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
 ((farah.master@thomsonreuters.com; +852 3462 7709;))
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