Macau Quarantine-Free for All of Mainland China, But Hong Kong Remains on Hold

Posted on: November 24, 2021, 08:04h. 

Last updated on: November 24, 2021, 01:30h.

Macau’s borders are finally open without quarantine for people arriving from anywhere in mainland China.

Macau quarantine casino gaming China
The bleachers were packed, with social distancing observed and COVID-19 protocols in place, for the Grand Prix Macau last week. Macau will see more visitors arrive in town after the regional government announced the ending of quarantine requirements for mainland China travelers. (Image: Xinhua)

After nearly two years of such mandatory health observations – which typically required incoming travelers to quarantine for at least two weeks in either a government-approved medical observation hotel or an isolation camp – Macau’s borders are fully open to mainlanders.

The easing of entry protocols is a major development for Macau’s casino operators, who have been battered due to COVID-19. Macau’s casinos remained open throughout 2020 and 2021 despite nearly nonexistent customer traffic.

Macau instructed the casino resorts to take all steps possible to avoid laying off employees during the pandemic. They mostly did so, which was likely part of an effort to remain in the good graces of both Macau and Chinese government officials.

Next June, the six commercial casino concessions are to expire. Demonstrating that their companies are community partners during both good and bad times will only help their odds of being issued fresh tenders in the world’s richest gaming market.

Gaming Rebound Potential

Gaming in many casino markets around the world has quickly recovered in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19’s darkest days. But in Macau, such recovery has been limited because of the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) and China’s zero-COVID approach. Those protocols result in strict reimplementation of coronavirus rules in the event of even a few new cases.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) through 10 months in 2021 totals just shy of $9 billion. While that’s 57 percent better than 2020, it’s a far cry from the more than $33.5 billion the six casino giants won through 10 months in 2019.

Macau eliminating the quarantine mandate on mainland China should quickly return visitors. The mainland is Macau’s primary feeding ground. In 2019, the mainland accounted for 71 percent of the 39.4 million people who visited the gaming enclave.

People arriving at Macau’s border gates are free to enter so long as they have a negative COVID-19 test that was conducted within the past 48 hours. That regulation is actually stricter than before the quarantines were lifted. Prior to today, people could enter Macau with a negative nucleic test completed within the past seven days, but were subject to quarantines.

Anyone who has visited a foreign country within the past 21 days prior to arriving at a Macau security checkpoint will be denied entry.

Hong Kong Banned

While Macau ending its quarantine mandates on mainland China is a major positive development for the casinos, they desperately seek the same easing for nearby Hong Kong.

Macau is continuing to limit entry for people coming from Hong Kong. Those who are granted entry must undergo 14 days of medical observation.

Hong Kong, the other SAR in China, was responsible for 18.7 percent of visitors to Macau in 2019.