The government has dropped its plan to make migrant domestic workers get Covid vaccinations, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday, but another compulsory test will soon be ordered.
Officials had announced that helpers would be required to be vaccinated before signing or renewing work contracts after one woman was found to have a mutant strain of the virus.
But the plan sparked outrage, with critics saying the administration was once again targeting the territory's hundreds of thousands of foreign domestic workers.
Before heading into this week's Executive Council meeting, Lam said officials had dropped the idea after considering the views of foreign consuls, helpers and their employers.
“After assessing public health needs and the fact that vaccination is voluntary in other countries… as well as legal issues that we may face if vaccinations are made mandatory, we will not make vaccinations mandatory when foreign domestic helpers make their visa applications,” she said.
But Lam added that domestic helpers will be required to take another Covid test before May 30 as a precaution. The testing order, which won't apply to those who are fully vaccinated, is expected to be issued on May 15.
Territory-wide testing of more than 340,000 helpers only came to an end on May 9.
The CE appealed to employers to let their helpers take their upcoming tests on a weekday, so they don't all have to queue up on their day off.
Lam also noted that Hong Kong's infection figures have remained low in the past two weeks, with a total of 11 local coronavirus cases and only one via an unknown source.