Caution has to always be the basis of the Hong Kong government’s strategy to stave off the Covid-19 pandemic. Authorities thankfully seem to be doing that with the city’s first travel bubble, scheduled to begin with Singapore on May 26. Commerce minister Edward Yau Tang-wah suggested on Friday that the scheme was likely to be postponed for a second time in the face of a recent surge of cases in the island nation and a final decision could be made next week. Some people are eager to break the monotony of confinement and for the economy to recover, but with the disease as threatening as ever, that cannot be done rashly or prematurely. The coronavirus was under control in both cities when the quarantine-free travel scheme was announced on April 26. But Singapore has since recorded dozens of new cases and is battling at least 12 clusters. There is bound to be disappointment from those looking forward to a resumption of tourism, but prospective travellers from both sides should not be surprised if arrangements are postponed for reasons, as Yau cited, of “absolute precautions”. The circumstances are the reverse of the previous postponement, made a day before the first bubble was to go ahead on November 22. Then, an outbreak in Hong Kong forced the government’s hand. Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble likely to be delayed after spike in Covid-19 cases This time, Hong Kong has the disease under control, with no untraceable cases having been detected for a week. But as in Singapore, there is concern about worrying variants and mutations that may lead to easier transmission, particularly from stricken India. Vaccination holds the key, but despite the government providing free shots, only 17.1 per cent of Hongkongers have had one jab and 11.2 per cent both. Whether to get vaccinated is a personal choice, even though the decision should be a civic duty. In the absence of people making a booking, the only mandatory action that can be taken to protect those most at risk is repeated testing. The order has so far been made for domestic helpers, care, elderly and nursing home staff, transport workers, catering and fitness centre employees and now, civil servants. For some of the groups, like domestic helpers, screening is not necessary if both vaccine shots have been taken. Chinese University has adopted a similar approach, refusing to provide dormitory accommodation to unvaccinated students who refuse to undergo regular testing at their own expense. It is a strategy that is bound to bear fruit; convenience, to some people, can be a powerful incentive. Travel bubbles, the opening up of the economy and the return to life as it was before the coronavirus requires rules being followed. Vaccination also has a role to play. Until there is greater civic-mindedness, we cannot hope for normality.