Editorial:Avoid the creation of 'pandemic outcasts'

【明報專訊】The government has suggested ''a new direction in fighting the pandemic'' under which social distancing measures and quarantine restrictions for inbound and outbound travellers will be loosened gradually with ''vaccine bubbles'' as the basis. With the pandemic easing off and the abundant supply of COVID-19 vaccines in Hong Kong, it is time to formulate a road map for restoring the city to normality. However, flexibility should be allowed in the design and operation of the road map. A one-size-fits-all approach should be avoided and the pace down the road should be gradual and step by step. As the unsatisfactory vaccination rate in Hong Kong is bound to drag the city's feet in the return to normality, it is necessary to increase the incentives for citizens to get the jab. But the government's way of pegging the pace of restoring normality to vaccination and the use of the LeaveHomeSafe tracing app is, to a certain extent, a combination of the carrot and the stick which will inevitably be resisted by some. Still, one must acknowledge the fact that countries like Israel and the UK are also planning to adopt ''digital vaccine certificates'' as the prerequisite for entering designated venues or places. The crux of the problem is how to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of fighting the pandemic, society's return to normality and individual rights. Too many ideological burdens will make it hard for the city to take steps towards normality.