Only Inoculated Staff Allowed In Banks, says HK Central Bank
HONG KONG – The central bank has directed local financial institutions to permit only vaccinated employees to work at their offices and branches, according to a recent report from The South China Morning Post (SCMP).
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) said banks should only admit workers who have received one vaccine jab, adding that financial firms have 2 weeks to notify the central bank when they would enforce the measure.
Notably, government agencies, including HKMA and the Insurance Authority and the Mandatory Provident Schemes Authority have started implementing a vaccine pass policy since last Wednesday (16 February). Employees who are unfit to receive COVID-19 vaccines due to medical reasons are required to undergo regular testing.
“If [a bank] decides not to implement a vaccine pass arrangement, it should provide the HKMA with details of its considerations,” said the HKMA’s Deputy Chief Executive Arthur Yuen Kwok-hang in a circular sent to all CEOs of the 165 licensed financial firms in Hong Kong.
“In view of the recent surge in COVID-19 infections involving new, highly transmissible strains, banks are advised to step up their precautionary measures for protecting their staff and customers and ensuring the uninterrupted provision of essential banking services.”
The move follows a record number of new infections in Hong Kong, where around 40,000 people have been infected with COVID, including dozens of bank staff. This has forced financial firms to close 1 in every 3 outlets in the city. Overall, banks in the city operate a network of 1,100 branches and outlets here.
The authorities’ vaccine pass varies from the version that applies to the public effective on 24 February. Under that, cinemas, shopping centres, restaurants, hair salons, and supermarkets are prohibited from catering uninoculated clients.
“The new HKMA measures will make it difficult for bank branches to reopen, but it is a necessary move amid the pandemic,” added Robert Lee Wai-wang, a lawmaker and a Chairman of the Hong Kong Securities Association.