Thursday, March 30, 2023

Hong Kong Regulator Asks Banks to Support Vaccine Rollout

Hong Kong’s financial regulator has written to banks to encourage them to support the government’s vaccine roll-out, a week after an outbreak of coronavirus cases swept through the city’s expatriate finance community.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said it was “in the interest of authorized institutions to support the government’s vaccination drive” because banks play a critical public service role. It encouraged financial institutions to make it easier for their staff to be vaccinated, such as by allowing workers to be vaccinated during office hours and granting time off “where necessary, to rest after vaccination”.

Banks including HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley were forced to close offices or reverse policies aimed at bringing more staff back to the office last week amid a cluster of cases at a popular ex-pat gym that resulted in nearly 900 people, including children, being sent to state-run quarantine centers.

Hong Kong’s vaccine roll-out has been slower than other major financial hubs, prompting concerns about the potential impact on international business in the territory and delays in easing travel restrictions.

This week, Hong Kong suspended administering the BioNTech vaccine citing packaging defects.