From Wednesday, members of the public are no longer required to use the Covid-19 LeaveHomeSafe app to access restaurants and other businesses.

Covid-19 vaccine pass leavehomesafe
Photo: GovHK.

However, the Vaccine Pass remains, requiring most residents to have received at least three doses of a Covid-19 vaccination. HKFP explains what this means for the LeaveHomeSafe app.

Can I enter scheduled premises without the app?

Yes. While proof of vaccination is still required to enter establishments such as restaurants, patrons can use a paper copy of their vaccination record rather than the electronic version of their jab record in LeaveHomeSafe if they choose.

The vaccine pass QR code can also be stored in two other government-developed apps: eHealth and iAM Smart.

What should I do if I don’t have a Vaccine Pass?

If you are a traveller visiting Hong Kong, you will receive a Vaccine Pass QR code when you arrive in the city after declaring your vaccination record.

You can also declare an overseas vaccination record at one of 18 designated post offices, or using the government’s online declaration platform.

List of designated post offices (Click to expand):
  1. General Post Office
  2. Tsat Tsz Mui Post Office
  3. Aberdeen Post Office
  4. Wan Chai Post Office
  5. Sham Shui Po Post Office
  6. Gillies Avenue Post Office
  7. Kwun Tong Post Office
  8. Wong Tai Sin Post Office
  9. Tsim Sha Tsui Post Office
  10. Kwai Fong Post Office
  11. Shek Wu Hui Post Office
  12. Tseung Kwan O Post Office
  13. Sha Tin Central Post Office
  14. Tai Po Post Office
  15. Tsuen Wan Post Office
  16. Tuen Mun Central Post Office
  17. Yuen Long Post Office
  18. Tung Chung Post Office

Which premises ask for proof of vaccination?

While visitors will have to satisfy the vaccination requirement to enter a number of specified premises, your Vaccine Pass or vaccination record will only be checked at 13 types of venues, including restaurants, bars, and gyms.

List of specified premises that ask for proof of vaccination (Click to expand):
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Bathhouses
  • Gyms
  • Public ice staking rinks
  • Movie theatres which allow eating
  • Party rooms
  • Beauty and massage parlours
  • Clubs
  • Karaoke establishments
  • Sports premises
  • Swimming Pools
  • Cruise ships

How can I show my coloured health code?

Hong Kong’s health code system, which sees Covid-19 patients issued with red QR codes through LeaveHomeSafe, was implemented in August this year. Only people with blue-coloured QR codes are allowed to access specified premises.

Hong Kong Health Code
Hong Kong Health Code. Photo: GovHK.

With the mandatory use of the application scrapped, establishments where vaccination records are actively checked will still be able to distinguish patrons with red health codes by scanning their vaccination record.

The government contact-tracing app was first introduced in November 16, 2020, and its use became mandatory close to a year later, with visitors required to use the app to access government premises, and later restaurants and other establishments.

Concerns over personal data protection in the app were raised after it was introduced. The government said that the travel history recorded by the app would only be stored on users’ phones, and would not be uploaded to any government system, adding that the app did not use the GPS function or access other information on the phone.

However, a Poland-based cybersecurity firm said in July that it had found privacy and security risks in the app that could jeopardise the safety of users’ personal information. The government in return said that the report was “inaccurate” and they were “unfair allegations.”

The government also confirmed to defunct news outlet Factwire earlier in May the existence of a facial recognition feature in the source code of LeaveHomeSafe, but claimed that it was never used.

Other functions

Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau, in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, said that the government would not scrap the app as LeaveHomeSafe still had other functions.

Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau meeting the press on December 13, 2022
Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau meeting the press on December 13, 2022. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

“Actually LeaveHomeSafe still has other functions, including the Testing Registration Code for [Covid-19] tests, allowing citizens to register their personal information, making it more speedy if they need to take a PCR test,” Lo said.

The health secretary also said that LeaveHomeSafe was an award winning app, and that it had contributed towards Hong Kong’s fight against the pandemic. LeaveHomeSafe was awarded the “Best Public Health Partner 2022” last month at Huawei Developer Day APAC.

LeaveHomeSafe was introduced as a contact-tracing app to identify close contacts and alert residents that they had been in the same venue as a Covid-positive person, but that function was dropped in February during the fifth wave.

Hong Kong reported 13,721 new Covid-19 infections and 37 deaths on Tuesday. The city has recorded 2,275,447 cases and 11,021 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic close to three years ago.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.