Macau Could Drop Hong Kong Quarantine Requirement Soon, But New Variant Will Factor

Posted on: November 26, 2021, 10:59h. 

Last updated on: November 26, 2021, 04:09h.

If things go according to plan, travel between Macau and Hong Kong could become more fluid next month. Macau is reportedly close to eliminating its mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for Hong Kong arrivals. With the change possibly only a couple of weeks away, this would be great news for Macau’s casinos.

Macau travel
A pedestrian street in Macau, which could soon see more foot traffic as COVID-19 quarantine rules are relaxed. (Image: Culture Trip)

However, before anyone can start relaxing, the impact of the new COVID-19 variant just discovered in Africa might have to be assessed. Dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organization, the variant has already been found in several countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Belgium and Israel. It has also been identified in Hong Kong.

Until the full scope of the new variant is revealed, things appear to be on the upswing for travel in the Special Administrative Region. Currently, traveling to Macau via Hong Kong is not a problem, as long as those individuals are willing to submit to quarantine.

That could change next month, though. Hong Kong media outlets have reported that Hong Kong travelers might be able to receive an exemption from quarantine measures beginning December 10.

Macau’s New Restrictions

Hong Kong and the Chinese province of Guangdong have agreed to a trial of relaxed travel rules. The quarantine requirement now in place is to be dropped. However, there will still be some restrictions initially, as local governments work to ensure there isn’t another COVID-19 outbreak. A maximum of 1,000 travelers will be permitted at first.

As a result of the new agreement between Hong Kong and China, Macau has announced that it will ease its restrictions, as well. Soon those traveling to Macau via the Guangdong Province will be able to avoid the quarantine.

The news comes only days after Macau announced that it had reached an agreement with China to relax travel policies from the mainland.

COVID-19 Cases Start to Fall

According to health officials, COVID-19 rates remain under control, independent of the latest variant that is now beginning to surface.

In Hong Kong, the seven-day average of new cases has hovered around three for the past week. In Macau, there haven’t been any newly reported cases since the beginning of October. China hasn’t reported any new cases, either.

These figures come as the rate of vaccination continues to increase in all of the regions. Hong Kong and China, in discussing the reduction of travel restrictions, indicated that they would first start with the Guangdong Province. If everything went smoothly, additional changes would be facilitated for travel between other mainland provinces and the SAR.

Macau’s Improved Revenue

While Macau has also relied heavily on Chinese gamblers, it also depends on Hong Kong for regular traffic. China accounts for around 70% of the city’s pre-COVID-19 traffic, with Hong Kong delivering just under 20%. With the pandemic, 2020 brought virtually no visitation from the two feeder markets. This year, despite some improvement, Macau has still been unable to recover and return to its normal operating levels.

So far this year, through the end of October, Macau’s casinos recorded gross gaming revenue (GGR) of almost $9 billion. This was a huge improvement – about 57% – over what they saw last year. However, it is still less than one-third of the $33.5 billion they recorded in 2019.

November continued to provide better numbers. The first three weeks of the month delivered an estimated $585 million, 59% more than the entire month of October. The figure, though, was still 71% lower than two years ago.