Hong Kong airport staff are to undergo mandatory vaccinations from 1 September - medical exemptions will no longer be accepted.
The Hong Kong Airport Authority (AA) has announced that targeted employees - including those handling high-risk cargo, those coming into contact with transit passengers or crew, or any ground or airline staff that has the potential to be in contact with passengers - will need to undergo mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.
These measures, the AA says, are an extension of the regulations that came into effect from 1 August that compel all crew within the airport's restricted section to take the vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 test.
The new measures will be implemented in two phases, with workers expected to receive at least one vaccination dose by 1 September, and both doses by the end of the month. Additionally, workers are undergo compulsory COVID-19 testing every seven days. Medical exemptions will also no longer be accepted in both phases, thus making the vaccinations mandatory for workers or the policy that they could be redeployed to other job functions.
The airport authority has said it has implemented the measures of mandatory vaccinations after a 47-year-old airport lounge employee tested positive for L452R mutant strain of COVID-19. It is believed she contracted it from a transit passenger.
"If we look at the airport, it is a high-risk place, especially when we are having inbound travellers, be it transit or coming to Hong Kong from places where there may be very high risk in terms of the epidemic situation,” Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan said to reporters. "For those people who are working in the areas whereby they would have close contact with inbound travellers or transit passengers, it is important to protect them and also to ensure that they are vaccinated. I think it is really basic."
The Hong Kong government announced last week that government employees would need to present vaccination proof from 1 September 1 or fit the bill for bi-weekly tests.
"If it's purely a personal option not to get vaccinated and help society achieve herd immunity, that's not something a responsible government should allow or tolerate," Hong Kong's Chief executive Carrie Lam told reporters at a press conference.
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