Hong Kong bankers face vaccine dilemma
Expat Hong Kong bankers are having to choose between visiting clients or seeing their family as vaccine nationalism dictates travel plans.
The US and European Union are allowing travellers to enter where they have taken an EU approved vaccine, and that currently excludes China’s Sinovac.
But China is imposing its own rules, allowing only people who have taken its approved Sinovac jab to travel to the mainland.
So expat finance professionals in Hong Kong face a choice between taking the Pfizer jab, which will enable them to return home to visit family, or opting for Sinovac so they can move more freely and visit clients within China.
An added problem is that there is public distrust of the government and concerns about the efficacy of Chinese vaccines.
For some bankers, this isn’t a big deal. Last year, at the height of the pandemic, many bankers opted to stay on the mainland in order to be close to clients, as arduous quarantine was introduced to ban or limit travel to and from Hong Kong.
But for other expats who haven’t seen their family for more than a year, prioritizing their personal life could have consequences for their ability to meet with clients. Banks are reluctant to impose firm-wide policy when it comes to vaccines. “It’s a personal choice and clearly largely dependent on personal circumstances ,” said one source at a US bank.
The Hong Kong government laid on two designated flights to the UK this month. However, travellers must quarantine for 21 days when they return. Another expat banker said he didn’t expect a clamour to return home. “Last year, if I wanted to travel from Hong Kong to London, I had to quarantine for two weeks in Dubai, then another two weeks in London, it just wasn’t worth it. Until restrictions are relaxed more uniformly, I’m staying put.”
Within Hong Kong, restrictions are easing. Some bankers are looking forward to enjoying the city’s nightlife again as, bars, clubs and karaoke parlours are allowed to re-open and operate until 2am for vaccinated residents.
From May 26 the Chinese government announced that people will be able to travel between Hong Kong and Singapore without needing to quarantine. All passengers departing from Hong Kong are required to be vaccinated, and passengers from both cities are expected to take a test within three days of departure and again on arrival. The move sparked a rush with flights selling out quickly.
The Chinese government said the travel bubble will be suspended if the seven-day moving average of unlinked community cases in either city increases to more than five.
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