The resumption of exit visas to Macau for the whole of Guangdong from August 26 should happen “as scheduled”, provided there is “not much change” in the incidence of Covid-19 in that mainland China province in the coming days, said Macau Health Bureau official Leong Iek Hou in a Macau government press conference on Monday.
Ms Leong was responding to a question from a local journalist, asking what impact if any, new Covid-19 infections reported respectively in the Guangdong cities of Shenzhen, next door to Hong Kong, and Shanwei on the Guangdong coast, east of Hong Kong, might have on travel easing arrangements between the mainland province and Macau.
In Shenzhen and Shanwei, the local authorities had “started their emergency responses very rapidly,” noted Ms Leong in the scheduled Monday briefing.
According to Guangdong’s Covid-19 task force, Shenzhen reported on Friday two local infection cases. Shanwei reported three local cases that day.
Virus tests had already been done in both places on people known to have had contact with the recently-confirmed cases. So far, no additional cases had been identified, the Macau health official noted.
Virus containment measures in the those cities had been “immediate”, Ms Leong added. “If we are not seeing many changes to the virus situation in the coming days, the new policy [reinstatement of Guangdong’s tourist visas] should happen as scheduled,” she told Macau reporters.
The tourist visas to be reinstated for Macau-bound travellers based in Guangdong include for package tour trips, and for independent travel under China’s Individual Visit Scheme (IVS). Such forms of exit permit from the mainland are due to be reinstated for all mainland provinces from September 23, according to China’s National Immigration Administration.
The IVS programme, which allows mainlanders to travel independently to Macau and some other places, was suspended in late January, as part of China’s Covid-19 containment measures, with tour group visas paused around the same time as the IVS ones. A return of IVS visas has been mentioned by industry insiders as a key element in Macau’s casino market recovery.
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Analysts at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein