Authorities in mainland China have shortened the time inbound travellers must quarantine. The new rules state that people entering the country from overseas are required to undergo seven days of mandatory isolation at a centralised facility, followed by three days of observation at home.
The change does not directly impact Macau, but mainland China is the only place to have a mostly quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau – albeit currently suspended due to the a Covid-19 outbreak in Macau, which was identified last week. The announcement by the mainland authorities nonetheless had a positive impact on stock prices of casino operators with Macau exposure during Tuesday trading.
The State Council published the updated version of Covid-19 control rules on Tuesday, relaxing the requirements from two weeks of quarantine and seven days of home observation.
Brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd said in a note on Tuesday that “the easing itself would not move the needle for Macau’s gaming revenues”. But analysts DS Kim and Livy Lyu stated that the timing of the announcement “was quite surprising”.
They added: “We and most investors were expecting any meaningful easing to come only after the [Chinese Communist] Party Congress toward year-end… One can say this is a much-needed step in the right direction toward a (very) gradual normalisation, i.e., it was a good enough directional signal in our view.”
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd also said the quarantine easing by authorities in mainland China was “a step in the right direction”.
Analysts Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Shirley Yang stated: “While this is the first official nationwide change in quarantine policy in China since March 2020, several cities had already been given the go-ahead to do this in May and June and have had this new policy in place (including Beijing, Wuhan, Wuxi, Xuzhou). Some Chinese cities were piloting a 10-day quarantine period since April.”
The Macau authorities announced earlier this month that they would reduce from June 15 the quarantine period to 10 days – plus seven of self-health monitoring – for those eligible for inbound travel that are departing from either Hong Kong, Taiwan or overseas.
Sanford Bernstein wrote in its Tuesday note that there was “no indication yet” from mainland China authorities that “there are any changes to non-quarantine travel between China and Hong Kong… nor are there any changes in individual visa scheme or group visa policies for Hong Kong or Macau.”
It stated: “There is still no clarity about when border easing for Macau will occur. In the end these changes are needed to see a rebound for Macau business.”
The brokerage pointed out that the current Covid-19 outbreaks respectively in Macau and in Hong Kong would “likely keep current travel policies/restrictions in place” for travel between China and those two cities – at least until the pandemic situation was brought under control in Hong Kona and Macau.
“What we see is a step in the right direction,” wrote the Sanford Bernstein team, in reference to the quarantine changes announced by mainland China. “Positive, but move forward changes very little in the short term, and we need to see what further positive changes are made and when. So far it is clear China is sticking with the zero-Covid policy.”
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