Tuesday, 17 May 2022

To Pool or not to Pool

Siena One, Discovery Bay, Hong Kong, looking East to Central
Our very lovely pool and beaches are open again. I’ve been swimming in the ocean, against government stipulations, all through the pandemic: my little bit of civil disobedience. The pool however is only really open now, yet I hesitate. Even though the weather is lovely, 22C and 50% humidity and clear skies.


Simple answer: because of the Vaccine Pass requirement to enter the Siena Club and pool.

[ADDED: I recognise how much of a “first world problem” this is. Worrying about where to swim. When, around the world people are struggling to live, to survive, to face war.... Still, we all have our quibbles, don’t we?]

I’m fully vaccinated, with three jabs, and have the required QR code on my iPhone. So it’s easy for me to comply. So why not comply?

1. Because it’s an arbitrary requirement, with no basis in science or experience in other countries. 

  1. Arbitrary” because it’s not a requirement to scan a QR code in places with high traffic like shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets. Whereas they are required in places with less traffic. This is bizarre and topsy-turvy. The biggest danger, such as it is, is in high-traffic environments, but that’s where there is no requirement to scan, purely because the logistics are too tough. Sure, that’s true. But it makes a nonsense of the rest of the policy. It ain’t science.
  2. Experience in other countries”: we have plenty now, from Europe, to Israel, to the US, where Vaccine passports were either considered and dropped, or, as in Israel, adopted then dropped because they were found to be ineffective in the main aim: to increase vaccine take-up.

2. Vaccine take up is now high in Hong Kong: over 90% fully vaccinated. And most of the people in the demographics of pool-goers will be close to 100%. So there is no need to require scans, based on the aim of increasing vax take-up.

3. It’s not my responsibility to protect the unvaccinated. Some will say it’s a “social duty” and that not doing it is “selfish”. But I’m not asked to refrain from driving a car because I may inadvertently harm someone. Same with vaccines. As the FAQs on the government website say: “... The Government has given the public sufficient time to get vaccinated”. But somehow it’s up to we vaxxed folks to be responsible for those that couldn’t be bothered? No.

4. The requirement is part of the government’s Zero Covid Policy. In that, it’s just following what it’s been laid down by Beijing. I’m not the only one to criticise Beijing’s ZCP. Even the WHO has said that it’s “unsustainable”. I don’t like to be a part of an ongoing deluded policy which is partly (largely?) to save Xi Jinping’s face. 

5. It’s government control gone wild. Which is part of our whole zero-Covid policy since 28 months ago. Always taking the path of most control and maximum panic. I’m just sick of it.

6. Government keeps records of where/when you’ve been. I don’t like this. And most people in other countries, ie, not the communist regimes like China, don’t like it either. Proof that the government keeps the records?:

When members of the public present their Vaccine Pass QR code for scanning, the “QR Code Verification Scanner” will record the partially masked number of personal identification document and name in an encrypted and hashed manner. When there are infection cases, the Contact Tracing Offices will require and authorise premises to upload the scanned record of the “QR Code Verification Scanner”. By comparing it with the hashed vaccination and other records registered by members of the public in the Government, close contacts and their contact methods can be identified in order to conduct contact tracing more accurately and quickly.

So I do my little bit of civic disobedience. I feel a letter to the editor coming up. Maybe this time the government will listen to me. They haven’t in the past, but you never know. 

ADDED: There was a Young Person’s debate on this recently, with Elaine Lai taking my position.