The government’s plan to make vaccinations a condition of easing curbs on dining and entertainment venues was greeted with criticism and scepticism two weeks ago. The so-called vaccine bubble looks even more bewildering after details allowing restricted premises to reopen or expand operations were announced on Tuesday. Publicity and enforcement aside, there needs to be a greater effort to make people aware of the importance of inoculations, without which the epidemic will persist and businesses continue to suffer. With at least four ways for restaurants to operate, depending on whether staff and customers are partially or fully vaccinated and using the government tracing app, enforcement will be an issue. Party rooms, nightclubs, karaoke lounges, bathhouses and bars also have to fulfil similar requirements before they can resume business on Thursday. The conditions also apply to local tours, large weddings, church gatherings and shareholders’ meetings. It is difficult for businesses to follow so many rules, perhaps even more so for their customers. Also in question is the new app that verifies the vaccination records of customers. The situation is further confused by arrangements for the medically unfit to make health declarations, and the need for regular virus tests just adds to the complexity, as do exemptions for the elderly and underaged who do not have smartphones and cannot use the tracing app. It goes without saying that the more people who have immunity and protection, the lesser the need for restrictions. The idea of having jabs in return for fewer social-distancing curbs is therefore justifiable. But with nearly 90 per cent of the population still not inoculated, there is an impression that such bubbles are being used to increase vaccination numbers. The pressure on affected businesses is even greater, with some workers fearing they may lose their jobs if they refuse to get the shots. Separately, some experts have expressed doubts over the scientific basis of the arrangements, and businesses have complained that relaxation criteria are too stringent. It may take some time for premises and customers to get used to the new rules. While flexibility in enforcement is needed during the initial stages, those who make false medical declarations or have fake vaccination records face a HK$5,000 (US$644) fine. Complicated as it is, the vaccine bubble will become the new normal under the government’s revised anti-epidemic strategy. Hong Kong bars set for April 29 comeback after four-month closure amid pandemic It is to be hoped the vaccine roll-out will eventually cover a sufficiently high proportion of the population so the bewildering tiers of social-distancing restrictions may be further eased. This cannot be achieved without a more vigorous promotion of vaccinations and detailed explanation of the benefits.