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Hong Kong Vaccine Pass - What employers should know

  • Hong Kong
  • Governments and Infrastructure

11-02-2022

The Hong Kong government has announced its intention to introduce the vaccine pass requirement from 24 February 2022 onwards, enabling the government to require anyone entering certain premises to be vaccinated. We set out below what you should know as an employer.

Businesses affected

The following businesses and premises (“Affected Premises”) will be subject to the vaccine pass requirement:

1. Amusement game centres;

2. Bathhouses;

3. Fitness centres;

4. Places of amusement;

5. Places of public entertainment;

6. Party rooms;

7. Beauty Parlours;

8. Club-houses;

9. Night-clubs;

10. Karaokes;

11. Mahjong-tin kau premises;

12. Massage establishments;

13. Sports premises;

14. Swimming Pools;

15. Hotels or guesthouses;

16. Cruise Ships;

17. Barber shops or hair salons;

18. Religious premises;

19. Shopping malls;

20. Department Stores;

21. Markets;

22. Supermarkets.

What are the requirements

When the changes take effect, the Secretary for Food and Health (“Secretary”) may issue directions to require persons to be vaccinated before entering, boarding or remaining on the Affected Premises set out above (“Vaccine Pass Direction”). These changes are under the Prevention and Control of Diseases (Vaccine Pass) Regulation (“Cap 599L”).

While the Secretary has not issued any Vaccine Pass Direction yet, the government has announced its intention to require all persons entering any Affected Premises after February 24 to have received one dose of Covid vaccine. The government intends to progressively tighten the requirement to require three doses from June 2022 onwards.

The vaccination requirement will apply to all persons entering any Affected Premises, including employees, customers and contractors.

How to comply with the requirements

A person in charge of any Affected Premises must ensure that all persons entering or remaining in any Affected Premises are compliant with the vaccination requirement. Cap 599L has empowered such persons in charge to inspect and examine the vaccination records or medical exemption records of persons who enter or remain at the Affected Premises, which may involve scanning the QR code of the electronic vaccination or exemption record using a mobile application specified by the government.

The person in charge may be liable to a criminal offence with a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and six months’ imprisonment.

Any person who enters or remains at a Affected Premises who does not meet these requirements is similarly liable to a criminal offence with a maximum fine of HK$10,000.

What should employers do

Employers operating Affected Premises must ensure that all employees possess the necessary vaccination status by examining and retaining a copy of the vaccination records of the employees. The only exemption for an employee working at a Affected Premises is if the employee possesses a specified medical certificate which satisfies all the following requirements:

1. contains an opinion from a registered medical practitioner that the person is clinically assessed to be unsuitable for being vaccinated with any type of the specified vaccines;

2. specifies a period within which the certificate is valid;

3. shows the date of issue of the certificate;

4. is in a form specified by the Director for Health;

5. is signed by the medical practitioner issuing the certificate if in hard copy form.

How to deal with unvaccinated employees

After the issuance of a Vaccine Pass Direction, the continued employment of an unvaccinated and unexempted employee in an Affected Premises will be in contravention of Cap 599L. If the employee cannot be meaningfully redeployed to another role which is not subject to the Vaccine Pass Direction, an employer may consider (a) suspending the employment of the employee for the duration of the Vaccine Pass Direction; or (b) relying on section 32K of the Employment Ordinance to terminate the employment of the employee. The government has indicated that it will amend the Employment Ordinance to address terminations in relation to the vaccination requirement. We anticipate that the position should be clearer once these amendments are published.