Striking the right balance is easier said than done when it comes to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. The difficulties have become more evident as Hong Kong further tightens restrictions in return for Beijing’s approval to reopen the border for limited quarantine-free travel. Cautiously but rightly, minimising infection risks remains the priority. But the practical difficulties in compliance for some people must also be addressed by the authorities. After much debate over the mandatory use of the risk-exposure app “Leave Home Safe” in all restaurants and regulated premises, the government announced that the disabled, people aged 65 and above as well as those aged 15 and below are to be exempt. But the requirement for all customers of bars or pubs, bathhouses, party rooms, clubs or nightclubs, karaoke lounges and mahjong premises will continue to apply. Officials say the exemptions are given as some people are unable to comply because of “reasonable reasons”. The arrangements may sound confusing, if not unscientific. But it is essentially a compromise, taking into account the fact that some people are less technology savvy or without smartphones. ‘Soft enforcement’ as Hong Kong mandates Covid-19 app at all restaurants That raises questions whether public health protection will also be compromised. The move is widely seen as pivotal to the implementation of a new health code, under which cross-border travellers are required to upload their records of using the risk-exposure app to enhance contact tracing in the event of infections. Official demographic data shows that the two age groups account for 30 per cent of the city’s population. With more than 2 million residents not obliged to register their whereabouts electronically, experts have warned that the health code will be rendered ineffective if it is not backed by extensive coverage. Hongkongers in areas with Covid-19 cases to be barred from cross-border travel There are also concerns whether restaurants have the manpower to monitor the use of the mobile app. The chief executive has not ruled out banning unvaccinated people from restaurants and other venues to help boost the inoculation rate. This has prompted calls to also lift all restrictions on restaurants’ seating and capacity, as industry leaders say the health risks will then be lowered. The government should strive to strike a balance on restrictions as the pandemic drags on.