Hong Kong reopens: life after quarantine
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People celebrate Halloween in Lan Kwai Fong in Central, Hong Kong, on October 31. Photo: Winson Wong

Letters | Covid-19 rules mean it’s all tricks, no treats for Hong Kong

  • Readers discuss events this week aimed at signalling Hong Kong’s reopening, and criticism of billing practices by veterinary clinics
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Halloween arrived, but there was no need for costume masks in Hong Kong, as the perpetual mask mandate continues. Sadly, there are no treats yet as it is all tricks.
The changes in the rules for arriving passengers can best be described as not “0+3” but rather “0+3=12”, highlighting that arrivals are required to undergo a minimum of 12 Covid tests. No treat at all.
The efforts to hold finance conferences this week as a sign that Hong Kong is open have resulted in limited attendance. The government wanted senior executives to attend to send a positive message globally, but they must wear masks, take several Covid-19 tests, and both gatherings and meal venues are limited. No treat at all.
The Hong Kong Sevens returns this weekend, but those attending must wear masks except when consuming food or beverages. Only true rugby fans will attend, rather than the fun-seekers that normally fly in from all around the world.
It is time to realise how troublesome doing business is in Hong Kong with the excessive measures that at one time made sense. Our city continues to be viewed by the world as inconvenient and inefficient, particularly as our Asian neighbours – Singapore and Thailand, for example – are truly open, resuming normalcy while improving their competitive positions relative to Hong Kong.
As Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po recovers from his own bout of Covid-19 and returns home, we can only hope his influence on the government can help steer us back to being an open and efficient city that truly welcomes visitors and business. No more tricks of mixed and changing messages, or free airline tickets. Let’s give back to the world and our own people the treat we deserve: a city open to all.

Bob Partridge, Tung Chung

Pet owners must realise better care equals higher costs

I was disappointed that the report, “Rise in complaints over hidden fees charged by vets” (October 18), did not include the point of view of a practising veterinarian. Dealing with sick pets, especially in an emergency situation, is an emotionally charged event. Despite veterinarians verbally explaining and having written consent forms for procedures and costs, an emotional client often just wants “anything done to save my pet”. The cost consequence of this comes later.

Veterinarians truly want to save and help animals and do their best to assist their owners in doing the same. As a long-term general practitioner, I still genuinely enjoy working with people and their pets, which are part of their family, assisting people in caring for their pets the best they can and taking into consideration what they can afford. Cost constraints in treatment must always be considered and discussed.

People forget that veterinary clinics have to be run as a business or they will close. Veterinarians are professionals who study for many years at university and work long hours in demanding conditions. The financial return is poor compared to some other professions. Vets are often expected to give their time away for free 24/7 “because they love animals”. This comes at a cost, especially for the mental well-being of veterinarians.

The level of veterinary skill, facilities and expertise in Hong Kong has grown exponentially in the 27 years I have been practising here. The pet-owning public have to realise that better care equals higher costs. There are no government subsidies for veterinarians or pet owners, who are both subject to market forces. Rent, salaries, import of specialised medications and equipment all cost money.

My advice to the pet-owning public is that, as with any professional relationship, a pet owner needs to know and trust their veterinarian. If you don’t, then choose another veterinarian. Mutual respect, trust and communication will eliminate any of these “cost” issues in caring for your pet.

Lloyd Kenda, Happy Valley