Hong Kong on Tuesday withdrew its controversial plan to make the vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mandatory for domestic workers.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday apologized for the chaotic arrangements experienced by residents forced into mandatory quarantine over the weekend, according to a report from the South China Morning Post.
“The [helper vaccination] policy has aroused a lot of concerns. So, after evaluation based on public health and taking into consideration the fact that other countries are still not asking for mandatory vaccinations … as well as the legal risks of such a plan, the government has decided not to request mandatory vaccination when helpers renew their contracts,” she said.
“It’s like we’re working in the dark when determining appropriate public health measures,” Lam added..
The decision reportedly came after meetings with officials from the Philippines and Indonesia.
The Chief Executive, meanwhile, said another round of mandatory testing will be required for over 370,000 foreign domestic workers in the city.
Those who had been vaccinated will be exempted, Lam added.
“We have to take precautions before any possible outbreaks, as we had found some infectious COVID-19 variants in the community. Having considered the inconvenience caused to the helpers and the employers [by the previous deadline], we have decided to extend the testing period for the second round,” she said in the SCMP report.
Lam said the coronavirus situation in the city had stabilized after a fourth day of zero local infections had passed.
The new round of testing will start on Saturday with a screening deadline of May 30.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had earlier said that Hong Kong’s plan to inoculate only domestic workers is something that “smacks of discrimination.”