Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the government had to come up with "stronger incentives" to persuade Hong Kong people to get Covid-19 vaccines and dismissed suggestions that the new measures are "too complicated".
The chief executive made the comments a day after she announced a series of “vaccine bubble” plans that will allow restrictions to be eased on bars, restaurants, cross-border travel and care home visits.
Speaking ahead of her weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam responded to a question from a reporter as to whether or not the measures – which would see further eased restrictions for those who are fully inoculated – were too complicated, and whether the government would consider a similar system to Israel, where "green passports" are given to those who are fully vaccinated.
"I don’t think our so-called incentives plan is complicated. Every country, every place has to design their incentives – or on a broader scale to design their anti-Covid-19 strategy – taking into account the local context," Lam said.
She said the vaccination rate in Hong Kong was currently about eight percent, which was "not very satisfactory".
Lam added that the SAR already has something similar to Israel's green passport in the form of the iAmSmart app, on which individuals can download their vaccination record. Details recorded include vaccination dates and what kind of jab was taken.
The CE conceded, though, that the government needs to put more efforts in promoting the vaccines.
"What we need now is to promote vaccination in Hong Kong, and since just protecting your own health and loving your family members are not strong enough incentives, then the government has to come up with stronger incentives – which are important not only for promoting vaccination but to allow Hong Kong to go back to normality in a gradual and orderly manner so that business could continue to operate."
She said the government had no plan to commit to a particular vaccination rate, saying that the expert panel on the government’s Covid-19 response said the authorities should work on encouraging "individuals, groups of individuals, or venue-based categories of individuals" to take the jabs.