Judicial review against vaccination pass rejected by High Court

The High Court on Wednesday dismissed a woman’s application for judicial review of the government’s ‘vaccination pass’ arrangement, with the judge saying the policy ‘strikes a reasonable balance’ between public health and human rights of the individual.

The vaccine pass arrangement covers restaurants, shopping malls, supermarkets, gyms and cinemas and came into effect from February 24, granting entry only to those who received at the least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The application was filed by citizen Law Yee-mei. She named Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan Siu-chee, and Innovation and Technology Secretary Alfred Sit Wing-hang as respondents. .

Law in brief said the arrangement denied her the right to sit for real estate agent license exams and deprived her of job opportunities and entering wet markets and supermarkets to buy premium products. need. The arrangement also forces him to buy takeout and “seek public places to eat” while being denied access to all public facilities.

Yet High Court Judge Russell Coleman, in his written judgment dated Wednesday, dismissed his challenge and said the measure seemed to him to strike a reasonable balance between protecting public health and restricting Lai’s individual rights. .

He highlighted several points during his explanation and said that Hong Kong is a geographically small, densely populated and highly urbanized area with a high level of mobility.

He continued that the arrangement applies to a limited number of specified premises “with considerable ‘traffic’ and flow of people” and noted that “the relevant activities or services involved … are not of absolute necessity “.

“The [vaccine pass] The regulations also include a range of exemptions to meet critical resident needs and limit some of the inconvenience otherwise caused,” Coleman wrote.

He also noted that the arrangement will expire on December 31, 2022 and Hong Kongers are not currently required by law to get vaccinated.

Coleman pointed out that Lai chooses whether or not to get vaccinated and added, “It can be noted that she did indeed make that choice.”

The judge identified the dual purpose of the measure – encouraging unvaccinated people to get vaccinated against Covid and reducing the presence of unvaccinated people in places where Covid is likely to be transmitted.

He pointed out that there are outdoor markets and stalls that are not subject to the vaccine pass arrangement, as well as online stores where Lai can buy basic necessities.

He wrote, “it is not arguable to suggest that Lai’s human dignity has been degraded” as well.