Macau and Hong Kong Resuming Public Transportation Between Chinese Regions

Posted on: December 26, 2022, 11:06h. 

Last updated on: December 26, 2022, 11:40h.

It recently became considerably easier to travel between Macau and Hong Kong.

Macau Hong Kong travel ferry bus casino China
Passengers board the Cotai Water Jet at Macau’s Taipa Ferry Terminal. Ferry service between Macau and Hong Kong is set to resume operations beginning Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. The restart comes more than three years after service was suspended amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Image: Creative Commons)

Cross-border public transport providers, after almost three years of having their services entirely suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are resuming their operations between Macau and Hong Kong.

Express bus service between the two regions resumed last Friday, Dec. 24, via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. On Friday, Dec. 30, Macau to Hong Kong ferry service is set to restart.

The public transportation resumptions come as China is doing away with its controversial “zero-COVID” policy that has barred the return to normal life. Though case counts are surging and COVID-19 hospitalizations are said to be overcrowding medical facilities, government officials across the mainland and in China’s two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) are eager to lift pandemic policies to allow people to get back to their lives.

It could come at a steep cost.

Because China President Xi Jinping maintained “zero-COVID” throughout the pandemic, the widespread isolations and quarantines have reportedly greatly diminished China’s herd immunity. That will leave the old and vulnerable most susceptible to severe complications of becoming infected with the virus, health experts say.

Cross-Border Travel

Before the pandemic, Macau’s casinos relied mostly on mainland China and Hong Kong to keep their multibillion-dollar resorts bustling and high-roller rooms occupied.

In 2019, for example, the mainland accounted for about 20 million of the 39 million travelers who made their way into Macau that year. Hong Kong accounted for the second- most travelers, with about seven million arrivals.

Macau’s local government last week took another step. They announced that travelers coming from overseas, Hong Kong, or Taiwan no longer need to undergo any quarantine upon entry into the casino hub. They also allowed public transportation to recommence with Hong Kong,

At the direction of Beijing, Macau authorities are telling people that they are individually responsible for their own health security moving forward. Plenty of Hong Kongers are nonetheless seizing the opportunity.

The whole world has been locked down for three years, so we wanted to go outside to have a look around,” Albert Xu, a 33-year-old, told the South China Morning Post while visiting Macau from the mainland. “You cannot only have work in your life.”

When ferries resume on Friday, service will be limited to a single daily departure in each direction from Hong Kong Airport to Taipa and from Taipa to Hong Kong Airport. Macau’s Taipa Ferry Terminal is located adjacent to Macau International Airport near the Cotai Strip.

Some Entry Rules Remain

Though it’s becoming easier to come and go through Macau, the region isn’t entirely free of pandemic policies. Every person arriving at Macau’s border gates must present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted within 72 hours.

Entrants are then required to take a daily rapid antigen test for the next five consecutive days through Macau’s “Self-Management” program. The test results must be uploaded to the person’s Health Code app.

If a test is positive, that individual’s Health Code will display “red,” which bars such infected persons from being in the public until testing negative.