Hong Kong, Macau Working on Travel Pact, Galaxy Entertainment Billionaire Says Enclave Should Ease Entry Restrictions

Posted on: June 10, 2020, 02:11h. 

Last updated on: June 10, 2020, 02:32h.

Hong Kong and Macau are developing a so-called “travel bubble.” That would allow residents of the Chinese Special Administrative Regions (SAR) to come and go between the two areas without the need for a 14-day quarantine on each end.

Macau coronavirus Hong Kong COVID-19
Macau and Hong Kong are mulling an arrangement that would allow people in the two regions entry without a necessary quarantine. (Image: Macau Daily Times)

Jason Wong Chun-tat, chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, told local media this week that such a pact is currently being discussed. His comments were reported by GGRAsia.

The industry expects that the arrangement can be negotiated within this month, and enacted within … one or two months,” Wong said after a meeting with the Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.

Macau presently allows people only from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong entry. But anyone granted access must undergo a two-week quarantine, whether at home with an electronic bracelet monitor or in a government quarantine center.

The mandatory quarantine has all but stopped visitor arrivals. As a result, gross gaming revenue plunged 93 percent in May to $221 million. In May 2019, casinos won $3.2 billion.

Travelers Needed

Only 11,041 travelers made their way into Macau in April – the last disclosed month from the Macau Statistics and Census Bureau. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the casino hub averaged more than three million monthly visitor arrivals.

Macau’s five-star hotels, predominantly found at the enclave’s integrated resort casinos on the downtown peninsula and Cotai Strip, reported an occupancy rate of just 6.6 percent. In April of 2019, those same rooms were occupied at a rate of 92.5 percent.

Hong Kong announced last week the extension of its mandatory 14-day quarantine until at least July 7. Galaxy Entertainment billionaire Lui Che Woo says that’s the time when Macau should lift its own quarantine mandate and allow traffic to resume between the SARs.

Worth an estimated $15.4 billion, Lui said “within a month” Macau should ease its border entry restrictions to attract meaningful incoming visitors. Galaxy is the owner and operator of Galaxy Macau, Broadway Macau, and StarWorld Hotel.

Coronavirus Latest

Macau’s decision to close its borders in March allowed the SAR to largely fend off the coronavirus. The disease spread rapidly throughout the mainland, and eventually the world. The enclave has reported just 45 COVID-19 cases and zero deaths.

Macau hasn’t reported a positive case of the coronavirus in more than two months. Hong Kong has 1,108 coronavirus cases, with four deaths.

Hong Kong’s decision to lengthen its mandatory quarantine came after the region experienced 13 positive COVID-19 tests on May 29, and health officials voiced concerns regarding the potential for a “super spreader” situation.

According to the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, “Many early studies on infectious disease epidemiology assumed that susceptible hosts within a population had equal chances of becoming infected. Subsequent observations unveiled … some individuals exhibiting a higher ability to infect others.”

A group of epidemiologists in Hong Kong recently deduced from cases studied that 70 percent of individuals infected with COVID-19 did not transmit the disease to another person. They found that just 20 percent of coronavirus patients were responsible for 80 percent of all transmissions.