Hong Kong International Airport announced last week that it will implement more stringent requirements to further protect airport staff after its most recent confirmed case involving lounge staff.
In a statement, the Airport Authority said that ‘targeted groups’ of workers will have to be vaccinated, and negative test results or medical exemption will not be accepted as an alternative.
The new requirements are implemented on top of the rules introduced in August requiring staff entering the airport’s restricted area to be fully vaccinated, or at least produce a negative test result.
Airport workers who now need to be fully vaccinated include those handling high-risk cargo and having unavoidable close contact with arrival and transfer/transit passengers, such as airline and ground agent staff, ramp coordinator, in-flight catering coordinator, cargo loading staff, as well as cabin and lavatory cleaners. Meanwhile, operators, including airlines, must only deploy vaccinated staff.
The airport is taking a two-phase approach with its latest health and safety requirements. Starting 1 September, staff in the targeted groups need to complete at least one dose, whilst those who have completed one dose or fully vaccinated are required to undergo a test every seven days.
Then by the end of the month of September, all staff from these groups must have completed two doses of vaccination, taking a test every seven days.
Whilst the daily confirmed cases in Hong Kong are averaging around 4 to 5, the recent confirmed case of a third-party employee at Cathay Pacific’s lounge staff has prompted the airline to impose stricter requirements. In a memo, it said only fully inoculated staff and contractors could enter its offices and buildings from 1 December, while those working at the airport would have to get both jabs by 1 October.
In Australia, the spike of daily confirmed cases in Sydney over the past week has reached all-time highs since the virus broke out last year. Qantas said it will now introduce mandatory requirements for front-line employees, including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers, to be fully inoculdated by 15 November, whilst remaining staff need to be get completed jabs by 31 March next year.
The policy follows consultation with Qantas and JetStar employees and a recent poll to get views on vaccination, which were answered by around 60 percent of its staff. According to the poll, around three-quarters think it should be a requirement for all staff to be vaccinated, expressing concerns if other colleagues weren’t vaccinated.