China removes quarantine requirement from Macau arrivals

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
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The gaming hub of Macau has not recorded any new cases of COVID-19 community transmission for more than five months, leading mainland China to agree to remove mandatory quarantine on arrivals from Macau and to gradually resume the Individual Visa Scheme.

Asgam reports officials from the Macau Health Bureau stated the government would implement community restrictions if any local cases of COVID-19 occur in the future, however it would not close down all casinos.

The Director of the Health Bureau, Lei Chin Ion, emphasised earlier this week that should Macau record just one case of local transmission in the future, theSAR would be considered as high to medium risk, prompting application of a “circuit breaker” with all entry restrictions immediately resumed and IVS suspended again.

Macau closed all of its casinos for 15 days in February to control the spread of COVID-19, however the coordinator of the Disease Prevention and Surveillance Centre, Leong Iek Hou, clarified this “circuit breaker” did not indicate that all casinos would close down immediately once a new case occurs.

The health authority added that it will resume the provision of one-off COVID-19 tests for frontline casino workers from Thursday.

About 10,000 casino workers had already received the test as of late July, with the rest of 50,000 frontline staff to be arranged in the coming days.

Patrons slowing returning to Macau’s casinos

Macau has been receiving about 2000 tourists a day following the relaxation of its quarantine arrangements for travel to Macau’s neighbouring Chinese mainland province Guangdong, compared to “a few hundred” in the weeks prior, a senior Macau official said on Friday.

Director of Macau Government Tourism Office Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes described the improved daily tally as still “low” relative to the numbers before the pandemic.

She was speaking in an interview with the Chinese-language radio service of the city’s public broadcaster TDM.

The relaxation of quarantine arrangements for travel from Macau to Guangdong came into effect last Wednesday.

Mainlanders had mostly not needed to undergo any form of quarantine to enter Macau, but they had been subject to a 14-day quarantine rule when going back via Guangdong.

Investment analysts said that had acted as a deterrent for people to come to Macau in the first place.

Nonetheless, it was also announced on Monday that all would-be customers of Macau casinos would from Wednesday, need a certificate showing they had recently tested negative for COVID-19.

A number of analysts said in commentary on changes that obstacles remained to large-scale tourism.

On Friday, Ms Senna Fernandes suggested it might take a “relatively long time” to see Macau’s inbound tourism recovery to pre-COVID levels.

Mainland Chinese customers have been – since the time of Macau market liberalisation and China’s further opening up, at the start of the current century – a major source for Macau’s inbound tourists.

In 2019, the city had more than 39 million visitors, nearly 71 per cent of them from mainland China, according to data from Macau’s Statistics and Census Service.

Analysts say that until China once again issues exit visas to visit Macau under the country’s Individual Visit Scheme.

It will be hard to get a major ramp up of gross gaming revenue.

IVS allows mainland residents from selected cities to travel independently to Macau and some other places.

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