Threatened by spreading global infections spurred by the Omicron variant, Hong Kong must remain extra vigilant against a new wave of community outbreaks. The challenge is further compounded by a less-than-satisfactory inoculation rate, with three in 10 citizens still shunning the Covid-19 jab. In a controversial move, the government has announced that those who are still not vaccinated will be banned from entering restaurants, government leisure venues and schools starting from February 24. The extension of the so-called vaccine bubble is the right step to take. The move was originally due to be introduced ahead of Lunar New Year, which begins on February 1. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday said the delay would allow more time for people to have their vaccinations and for enforcement measures to be worked out. But shopping malls and private offices would not be affected as such a move would have a “far-reaching impact”, she said. There are also no plans to suspend schools or to tighten social distancing at this stage, but more public bodies are expected to follow in government footsteps. Arguably, the extension should have been in place sooner rather than later. While the new start date may avoid any disruption to bookings for family dinners and banquets during the holiday, and enable restaurants and other premises to better cope with the move, it may be misinterpreted by some as a signal to lower their guard and undermine efforts to curb the virus. News that the inoculation rate has picked up since the original move was announced is indeed welcome. The daily uptake surged from 2,000 to 3,000 in previous weeks to 18,000 on Monday. However, while the first-jab rate has reached 73 per cent, there is still room for improvement, particularly among the elderly. With the pandemic still gripping much of the world, vaccinations have become a matter of necessity, not choice. To be fair, citizens have been given nearly a year to roll up their sleeves and become inoculated, but millions have yet to do so. As the government exhausts its measures to curb the prolonged Covid-19 contagion, those who continue to resist being vaccinated without valid reason should expect further inconvenience to their daily lives. Vaccine bubble plan for Hong Kong restaurants, schools delayed to February 24 The city is already paying a high price for outbreaks, including from the latest infections at a Kowloon Tong restaurant that have been met by massive testing and quarantine operations. They are also going to further delay the resumption of cross-border travel. Lam has rightly made bringing life back to normal for the public her New Year’s resolution, but this cannot be achieved without the cooperation of the community.