COVID-19 Coding System Could Streamline Travel to Macau

Posted on: April 24, 2020, 09:30h. 

Last updated on: April 24, 2020, 10:17h.

Macau is developing a health coding system that could replace cumbersome border travel restrictions now in place with Guangdong Province, according to news reports. Since March, people from Guangdong must quarantine for two weeks after arriving in Macau.

Macau Travel Coding Proposed
Mainland China has a system in place where color codes are given to residents so they are approved for travel on public transportation, given coronavirus risk. Macau may implement a similar system. (Olivia Zhang/Associated Press)

Now being tested, the Macau health coding system will assign people different colors which represent their health status. If they are classified as “green,” they can enter Guangdong Province without undergoing quarantine, Inside Asian Gaming reported.

A green status means they have no symptoms. They have not been in regions recently where the virus was prevalent. Nor have they been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

A similar health coding system is in use in mainland China. It is used by people to check into hotels or to ride on public transport.

Currently, Macau residents who also have Zhuhai resident cards can enter that Guangdong city without going through a quarantine. They still must be tested for the virus every week.

No New COVID-19 Cases in Macau

As of earlier this week, Macau did not see any new cases of coronavirus in two weeks, Inside Asian Gaming reported. Some 26 patients recovered as of Wednesday, and 19 patients remained hospitalized, the report adds.

Also, some 163 people were staying at one of three hotels, Macau News reported. One of the trio, the Sheraton Hotel, was dropped as a hotel for coronavirus patients as of Thursday.

As of Friday, the hotels still accepting COVID-19 patients were the Pousada Marina Infante Hotel and Golden Crown China Hotel. Among the guests were 101 Macau residents, and many are students who recently returned from other nations where coronavirus is present, Macau News said.

The hotels provide temporary residence to less-ill patients where they can recover without risking transmission of the illness to their families. Local guests with the virus do not have pay for the rooms.

Macau legislators continue to be concerned about the economic impact from coronavirus. Many officials soon want to remove travel restrictions between Guangdong and Macau.

Guangdong’s COVID-19 quarantine protocols are keeping tourists and players from accessing Macau by land. Flights to the peninsula are close to non-existent.

Tourism Must Increase in Macau

The number of landings and take-offs at the Macau airport have plummeted because of the pandemic. There are less than 10 a day, with fewer than 300 in April, the airport said.

“Tourists are the key for recovering the local economy ….  Macau should imitate or directly adopt the epidemic prevention health code standards and systems from mainland China with national recognition connected with other cities in the mainland,” legislators Ma Chi Seng and Lao Chi Ngai recommended in a report from Inside Asian Gaming.

In February, Macau gross gaming revenue (GGR) dropped nearly 88 percent. That was followed by a nearly 80 percent decline in March.

Guangdong is the Chinese province nearest to Macau and is typically a major thoroughfare for visitors looking to enter the gaming hub. Authorities in Guangdong are now requiring travelers from outside of mainland China to undergo a 14-day quarantine there before moving on to other destinations.