HONG KONG – A private Hong Kong sports club has given orders to all staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by the end of June or else, they would be denied of future bonuses, promotions and pay rises.
The request, an example of the rising pressure on residents in the Asian financial hub to get jabbed, comes days after the city’s government launched a broad campaign to incentivise its 7.5 million population to get vaccinated.
The Chinese special administrative region started its COVID-19 vaccination program in February but only around 14% of the population have been fully vaccinated.
In an internal memo sent by the Hong Kong Football Club, General Manager Mark Pawley said staff who take the vaccine by the end of June will receive HK$2000 ($258) and days off in lieu for each jab they take. Those who do not will be denied future pay rises and bonuses.
Hong Kong has largely controlled the virus with around 11,800 infections and 210 deaths. Against this backdrop, the majority of residents have opted to delay vaccinations.
Full page advertisements by the government in major newspapers on Wednesday instructed citizens to get vaccinated “ASAP” and highlighted vaccination leave, dining offers and other rewards.
Hong Kong’s financial regulators on Tuesday told banks, brokers and asset managers to identify staff in key roles who would receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Some businesses have announced incentives including a new flat worth HK$10.8 million ($1.4 million), while restaurants and bars are offering discounts to vaccinated patrons.
The government has also relaxed some coronavirus rules, such as shortened quarantine time for vaccinated residents, as worries over adverse reactions and a lack of confidence in the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine has hit vaccine demand.
Residents are allowed to choose which vaccine they take, either Sinovac or Germany’s BioNTech. However there remains a surplus of unused vaccines for both, and the BioNTech doses will start to expire from August, the government said.
To avoid wastage, Hong Kong may donate vaccines or cancel future batches, moves which could hinder future orders, authorities said on May 25.