How do you solve the math question of vaccine bubble?

April 14, 2021 10:12
Photo: RTHK

Imagine there is a cha chaan teng with eight tables, two of which are in the clean zone, a new term that will allow eight diners till 2am under the vaccine bubbles.

Now six diners came in, three of which used the LeaveHomeSafe app. These three diners are vaccinated once, twice and none respectively.

Then the three other diners without the app are vaccinated once, twice and three times (for an unknown reason).

They all wanted to sit together but there are only two seats left in the clean zone. What would be the best seating plan?

Perhaps even our smart policymakers would not be able to come up with an answer although they are the one who set the dilemma.

Welcome to the vaccine bubbles, a much-needed effort to resume the business of restaurants and other premises based on the vaccination of their workers and customers.

With luck, bars will be re-opened later this month after being banned for months, if all workers would get at least one jab.

And the four-people rule for restaurants would be further relaxed to six people and closing time to midnight from 10pm if customers are using the LeaveHomeSafe app.

Assuming if it goes well, we would then enter into the second stage where restaurants can set up a “clean zone”, where the number of diners allowed would be further relaxed to eight people and they can dine till 2am – provided that all restaurant staff have taken both doses and 14 days after the second jab.

Then the third and final stage would be 12 customers per table with all staff and customers vaccinated.

With all the different scenarios involved, little wonder some restaurants found it quite confusing. Even diners who fancy a larger gathering would probably not like the government imitative to link vaccine to dining.

The policy incentive of the so-called vaccine bubbles is clearly to boost the low vaccination rate.

As of Sunday, only 578,900 people had received their first jab, or about 11 per cent, trailing other international cities such as New York, London and regional rival Singapore.

If Hong Kong failed to catch up, the city’s economic recovery would be at stake. In fact, even China would be unwilling to exclude Hong Kong people from the two-week quarantine, as opposed to Hong Kong offering exemption to mainland visitors without the two-week quarantine.

While we appreciate the efforts to achieve herd immunity, we are not sure if the government, which has been unpopular among the citizens in the last two years, has upset rather than pleased more people with the vaccine bubble idea.

Spare a thought to the restaurant people who are facing a catch-22 situation without a good solution in sight.

-- Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer