Caixin
Jun 02, 2021 07:14 AM
CHINA

Hong Kong Calls on Banks to Push Staff Vaccinations

People stand in line outside a community vaccination center administering the BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine imported by Fosun Pharma in Hong Kong
People stand in line outside a community vaccination center administering the BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine imported by Fosun Pharma in Hong Kong

(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong urged all banks to “strongly encourage” staff in client-facing roles or support functions to get vaccinated as the city struggles with local resistance to the free rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations.

Banks should “identify and draw up a list of designated staff expected to receive inoculation,” Arthur Yuen, executive deputy chief of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), said Tuesday in a circular to financial institutions. Banks are required to submit lists of designated staff within two weeks.

The government is increasingly looking to enlist local businesses and institutions to help get people vaccinated as it struggles to persuade reluctant residents. A low rate of infections in the city has also damped demand for vaccinations. Major companies, restaurants and even colleges, have started offering cash payouts, extra time off, and even the chance to win a $1.4 million apartment.

Bookings for shots have surged since incentives were rolled out, but the city still lags behind in its vaccination rate. About 13.6% of Hong Kong residents have been fully inoculated, even though it’s one of the few places that offers shots free to all adults, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker. That’s well below 40.7% in the U.S. and neighboring Singapore’s 28.3%.

The banks’ lists should include staff involved in branch operations, wealth management and commercial banking who have frequent face-to-face interactions with customers, the city’s de facto central bank said. Employees responsible for critical information technology, data centers and treasury and settlement operations should also be included.

Staff included on the lists should undergo their first Covid-19 test by June 30 if they have not taken the first dose of the vaccine by then, the HKMA said.

“Promoting a high vaccination rate is a collective effort of the whole community,” Yuen said in the circular. “It would also provide the requisite foundation for Hong Kong to re-start international travel, which is crucial for us to maintain Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center.”

The city is easing its strict quarantine rules for senior executives traveling in and out of the financial hub to further boost business. The HKMA urged banks to give extra days of leave to vaccinated staff.

Contact editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com)

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