A senior official representing the health authority in mainland China’s Guangdong, has called on the public in the province of more than 100 million people, to spend their February Chinese New Year (CNY) break within its boundaries, as a precaution against the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Visitors from Guangdong province made up nearly 60 percent of Macau’s mainland Chinese visitors for the first eleven months of 2020, according to latest data available from Macau’s Statistics and Census Service.
During January to November, Macau had nearly 2.4 million visitor arrivals from Guangdong, representing 57.8 percent of an aggregate of 4.15 million mainland Chinese arrivals. The city recorded overall, 5.24 million visitor arrivals for the January to November period.
Huang Fei, deputy director of Guangdong’s Health Commission, mentioned the ‘stay home’ advice for Chinese New Year in a Friday media briefing on the local Covid-19 situation. Guangdong nonetheless remained a “low risk” place in terms of Covid-19, Mr Huang noted.
Macau currently has a quarantine-free travel arrangement with the mainland, provided travellers in either direction have not been in a foreign country within a certain number of days beforehand.
China’s State Council has designated February 11 to 17 inclusive, as the Chinese New Year holiday period for 2021. The week-long break – linked annually to the lunar calendar and also known as the spring “Golden Week” – is typically a busy period for Macau’s casino resorts and the city’s tourism trade.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis in mainland China in 2020, the jurisdiction has introduced a three-tier system for categorising Covid-19 risk in relation to main cities and provinces. The system is also a reference point for local governments within the mainland to decide on virus-prevention policies.
Guangdong health official Mr Huang noted on Friday: “As the condition for [Covid-19] prevention and control work now is challenged and complicated, we would encourage companies to – in accordance to their production status and the will of their employees – flexibly arrange the holiday period for their staff and direct them to stay within Guangdong during the Chinese New Year break.”
He added: “We would suggest the public should not to leave Guangdong unless it is necessary to do so.”
Mr Huang further noted Guangdongers were advised “not to go to any mid- or high-risk places [within China] or outside the country’s borders. If they must…get informed of the virus spread situation and the prevention measures of their destinations.”
As of Sunday, mainland China’s mid- and high-risk places were all in the north, namely in Hebei province, Beijing city, Liaoning province and Heilongjiang province, according to information published by China’s health authorities.
Currently, inbound mainland visitors to Macau that have not been outside mainland China within 14 days of their intended arrival in Macau, are exempt from undergoing a 14-day quarantine, as long as they can provide a certificate – issued within seven days of arrival – proving freedom from Covid-19 infection.
A Macau health authority advisory notice, issued on Saturday, said the quarantine exemption did not apply as of that date, to mainlanders wishing to visit from the following places: Shijiazhuang city and Nangong city in Hebei province; the Aihui district of Heihe city, in Heilongjiang province; Dalian city and Shenyang city in Liaoning province; and several districts of the country’s capital, Beijing.
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Lei Wai Nong
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance