Macau Tightens Travel Restrictions for Hong Kong Arrivals Because Of Virus Spike

Posted on: August 4, 2020, 07:13h. 

Last updated on: August 4, 2020, 09:06h.

Macau’s Health Bureau has tightened border restrictions on arrivals from Hong Kong in reaction to a spike in coronavirus cases in the business hub.

Macau TIghtens Hong Kong Travel Restrictions
Once praised for its handling of the virus, Hong Kong is now experiencing a new wave, causing Macau to impose restrictions. (Image: AFP via Getty)

Starting August 4, visitors from Hong Kong will be required to produce a certificate showing they have tested negative for Covid-19 within the preceding 72 hours. Previously, they needed to prove they had tested negative within the past week, a measure that remains in place for arrivals from the mainland.

All visitors from Hong Kong must complete two weeks of quarantine on arrival, as is the case for certain regions of mainland China. Since March 28, Macau has banned all visitors from outside mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Macau has largely contained the virus, reporting just a handful of cases since March. But it has done so at the cost of its casino sector, as travel restrictions imposed by the enclave have seen visitation all but dry up.

Neighbor Hong Kong — once a poster child for its handling of the epidemic — has seen a new wave of cases, with a rolling daily average of 115.9 in the past week, and the government has warned its hospital system could face collapse. Under normal circumstances, Macau receives around 15 percent of its visitors from Hong Kong.

Better but Still Bad

In mid-July, Macau’s gaming stocks rallied on the news that Guangdong Province to the north had scrapped its own 14-day quarantine policy for those inbound from Macau, making travel to and from Macau much easier. Visitors crossing the Guangdong border accounted for around half of those entering Macau last year.

This was reflected in the enclave’s July numbers, released last weekend by the Macau Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ). The $167.8 million generated by the enclave’s casinos represented an increase of almost 88 percent on the previous month. But it was down 94.5 percent on the previous year.

July was the fourth straight month that gaming revenues have contracted by more than 90 percent. For the year, Macau is down almost 80 percent in the same period of 2019.

Vaccine Hopes

Macau’s government said Tuesday it was closely watching a local research team’s promising efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

The Faculty of Medicine at Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST), working in collaboration with scientists from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), said this week its candidate vaccine had produced “potent functional antibody response” in mice, rabbits, and monkeys.

The team will reserve 8 million doses of the vaccine for Macau and Hong Kong residents.