The government said on Monday that people going into some places under the upcoming vaccine pass scheme won't need to show staff their records, but would need to produce them if asked by law enforcement officers.
This emerged as officials explained the details of how the vaccine pass scheme will be implemented from Thursday.
When going into restaurants and clubhouses, customers will need to show their inoculation record, in the LeaveHomeSafe app or in paper form, so it can be scanned by staff.
But for places like shopping malls, supermarkets and wet markets, people will only have to check in with the app.
They won't have to show their vaccination record unless asked to by law enforcement officers.
"It's more like the carrying of the HKID card with you. The downside is of course that our tracking capabilities will be a bit hampered," a food and health deputy secretary, Kevin Choi, said at a press conference.
"Perhaps, we do need to consider whether we should do active checking later on. But as of now, we believe passive checking for these premises will be the right way."
Choi said the government has adopted this approach because it understands it would be difficult for some premises to check the vaccine pass of every single customer.
Asked whether the pass will be phased out once Hong Kong achieves a certain vaccination level, Choi said: "It will be here as long as it's necessary to combat Covid. The sole purpose of the vaccine pass, basically it's to ensure the community is well-equipped to fight Covid, that's all."
Meanwhile, the government's deputy chief information officer, Tony Wong, stressed that there are no privacy issues regarding the scanning app.
He said the personal data collected will be encrypted and only unlocked by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) if needed for contact tracing purposes.
"Only when there's an infection case in that venue, the centre's officer will request the operators to, through a one-time password, unlock this [scanning] mobile app, and send this encrypted data to the CHP's central database for contact tracing," Wong said.
"We're confident that all the data kept in this mobile app is not personally identifiable data, so personal privacy is well protected."
When asked whether law enforcement agencies other than health officials can get access to the information, Wong said the data is mainly for fighting the epidemic.