Coronavirus

Macau Confirms ‘Blue Code’ Quarantine-Free Travel Program with Hong Kong

Macau health officials confirmed this week a so-called “blue health code” program to allow visitors from Hong Kong to enter the enclave without the need to quarantine upon arrival. 

A man in Macau scans a QR code with his Macau Health Code mobile app. The Chinese region is considering allowing people from Hong Kong who are vaccinated and have recently tested negative for COVID-19 to skip quarantining. (Image: Macau News Agency)

The Macau Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center developed the travel bubble initiative with Hong Kong, though no timeline for its implementation has been revealed. The blue health code system would allow Hongkongers who are fully vaccinated and have received a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test within the past 48 hours to enter Macau and not undergo medical observation. 

The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) revealed that 51 hotels have already signed up to participate in the blue health code program. Macau says no such program will be initiated unless both Hong Kong and Macau experience 14 full days of no new local COVID-19 infections. 

The last reported new case came on June 28, when Macau confirmed that a 20-year-old female resident tested positive after returning from a trip to Singapore.

Code Blue System Operation

Here’s how the blue health code program will operate. 

Hongkongers must download the Macau Health Code mobile app to their smartphones and upload documentation of their full vaccination. Once approved, a person seeking to travel into Macau must complete a COVID-19 nucleic acid test and upload that negative test result to the app.

Once those steps are completed, the individual’s Macau Health Code app will display a blue code at the enclave’s border gate. Hongkongers will be granted access but will be required to go immediately to their hotel of choice that is approved in the blue code scheme. 

The guest must remain inside the resort where they’re staying. Blue code individuals can dine and gamble within the property without wearing face masks. However, swimming pools and other various attractions deemed high-risk will not be open.

The MGTO did not reveal the specific hotels that have opted into the blue health code program, nor how many of them house casinos. The government agency did say that the 51 hotels collectively offer around 2,700 hotel rooms. That hints that many are smaller hotel properties. 

Larger integrated resorts found on the Cotai Strip offer thousands of rooms each. The Venetian offers 3,000 rooms and Wynn Palace 1,700 occupancies, for example.

Quarantines Damping Recovery

Macau remains closed off from the rest of the world. Only people coming from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are currently able to enter the Chinese Special Administrative Region. But those people must test negative for COVID-19 and then still undergo at least 14 days of medical observation before being permitted to move freely. 

That great difficulty in traveling to Macau has kept the region’s economy at a standstill. 

Macau recorded 866,063 entries into the enclave during the month of May. Prior to the pandemic, May 2019 experienced nearly 3.4 million entries. As a result of the continued border gate restrictions, gross gaming revenue (GGR) in June totaled $820 million. That is down 73 percent from June 2019. 

In the US, where domestic travel has largely rebounded, casinos are experiencing record play. Nevada, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Michigan are just some of the states that have recently posted all-time monthly GGR highs. 

Devin O'Connor

Gaming Legislation, Politics, Casino Business, Entertainment----Devin O’Connor’s passion for politics and background in the world of pop culture television give him insight into the gaming industry backstories that often drive news these days. After graduating from Penn State University with a theater arts degree, he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom from 2005 to 2010 as a writer and producer, where his credits included Total Request Live, New Year's Eve specials, and a special featuring poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. He later moved on to the HGTV/DIY Network, where he created, wrote, and produced three series specials: That's So House Hunters, That's So 80s, and That's So 90s. Devin came on board with Casino.org in 2014. He lives in Pennsylvania, and is an avid marathoner, having completed 15 races to date. Email: devin.oconnor@casino.org

Share
Published by
Devin O'Connor