Hong Kong and Macau ought to consider creating a “travel bubble” that would allow residents of the two cities to travel freely between the two places without having to go through a compulsory quarantine process that is currently in place.
So said Lam Ching Choi, a member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council who is also a medical doctor, in comments to Hong Kong media outlet Ming Pao. He mentioned that new cases had either been absent – in Macau’s case – or very low in Hong Kong’s case, for a “relatively long period”. He also cited opinion gathered from a panel of experts that advise the Hong Kong government on local efforts to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
As of Thursday, Macau had gone 29 consecutive days without recording a new case. The city has had only 45 in total – most of them imported – since the crisis hit locally in late January. On Thursday, Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection had announced it was investigating four newly-confirmed Covid-19 cases. According to a dedicated website from the Hong Kong authorities, that took the confirmed total to 1,045, with four deaths.
Last week Hong Kong announced that a 14-day quarantine applicable to “certain persons” had been extended until June 7. Under the relevant regulation “all persons arriving from the mainland, Macau or Taiwan (or having stayed in the mainland, Macau or Taiwan) in the past 14 days prior to arrival to Hong Kong” are subject to compulsory quarantine. Macau has a similar arrangement for Hong Kong residents wishing to travel to Macau.
Mr Lam told Ming Pao that Hong Kong experts were “confident” regarding Macau’s quarantine and prevention work against the novel coronavirus.
Starting on March 25, the Hong Kong government banned non-Hong Kong residents travelling via overseas countries – i.e., coming from outside Greater China – from entering the city via Hong Kong International Airport. The same ban applies to any non-Hong Kong residents that might seek to enter Hong Kong via mainland China, Macau or Taiwan, if the person had been to an overseas country within the previous 14 days.
Also from March 25, all those arriving in Hong Kong – including Hong Kong residents – have had to undergo a quarantine procedure if they had been to Macau or Taiwan within the previous 14 days.
In 2019, Macau had a statistical daily average of 108,000 visitors, based on that year’s tally of 39.4 million arrivals as reported by the city’s Statistics and Census Service. In recent weeks, due to various travel restrictions across the world, Macau’s visitor numbers have been down to a few hundred people per day.
Visitors from Hong Kong totalled just above 7.35 million in full-year 2019, accounting for 18.7 percent of the aggregate number of tourists to Macau in the period.
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President of the Mohegan Inspire Entertainment Resort in South Korea