The government said on Tuesday that it would amend the law to empower the Secretary for Health to invalidate Covid vaccination exemption certificates if there are grounds to believe they were issued without proper medical consultations.
The health chief had sought to void more than 20,000 such certificates issued by seven doctors accused of not conducting the consultations properly, but the High Court ruled last Friday that the authorities had no legal power to invalidate the documents.
In a statement, the government said it would not appeal against the ruling, but will amend the law instead.
A government spokesman said the decision was made after weighing factors including the urgency of anti-epidemic work, the time it would take to launch an appeal, and the validity of the certificates.
The spokesperson said the move to submit legal amendments "fulfils Hong Kong's best interests" and plugs any legal loopholes.
The government gazetted the amendments to the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation on Tuesday.
Officials will submit the amendments to Legco on Wednesday through negative vetting, meaning lawmakers will vote on them after the updated legislation takes effect.
Executive Councillor and senior counsel Ronny Tong told RTHK the government needed to take prompt action, saying there's "no room for delay" when lives are at stake.
"If the judge ruled that there's a loophole in the regulations and that people having unlawfully obtained certificates could get exempted from the counter-pandemic policy, then I think it is the government's responsibility to plug the loophole rather than to appeal and try to win a legal argument," Tong said.
Last updated: 2022-10-25 HKT 21:59