Macau will only be able to waive its current 14-day quarantine-on-arrival for people travelling from Hong Kong if the latter city sees no local Covid-19 infection cases for a consecutive 14 days, says Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng (pictured). He was speaking during a Tuesday question-and-answer session held at the Legislative Assembly, about the city’s 2021 public-policy priorities set out in the Policy Address delivered by the Chief Executive on Monday.
Mr Ho’s clarification on the requirements for an inbound travel bubble for Hong Kong arrivals was in response to a question from local legislator Chan Chak Mo.
Currently, Hong Kong residents that wish to travel out of Hong Kong to Macau, are still subject to Macau’s 14-day quarantine on arrival that has to be completed at a venue designated by the Macau government. They must also have a certificate for a negative test result for Covid-19 infection.
In order to waive the quarantine requirement for arrivals from Hong Kong, the city has to be qualified as a “low-risk” region as defined by China’s Covid-19 prevention standards, Mr Ho told the assembly on Tuesday. He added such arrivals would still need to submit a ‘negative’ test certificate.
“We really want to welcome back [arrivals from] Hong Kong, which is just one bridge away,” said Mr Ho, referring to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the only direct land-transport link, and the only current direct transport link amid the suspension of the Hong Kong to Macau ferries.
But Macau’s leader added: “Their [Hong Kong's] situation poses risk to us. If we resume travel ties with them now, how are we to deal with mainland China?” He was referring to the risk that imports of infection from Hong Kong could put at risk the current, near-universal, quarantine-free travel bubble – in both directions – Macau enjoys with mainland China.
Mr Ho further noted: “We hope that Hong Kong can… reach zero local Covid-19 infection cases [for 14 consecutive days], which would get them qualified by the country [China] as a low-risk place. Then we will have conditions to welcome back Hong Kong travellers, requiring them only to present a Covid-19 test result.”
New Year holidays
In his other comments on Tuesday to legislators, the Chief Executive noted that the government would continue to promote Macau to mainlanders as - for them – a quarantine-free city, as well as safe one, to try to attract visitors during the calendar New Year and Chinese New Year, early in 2021.
Mr Ho also stressed to the legislators the importance of Covid-19 vaccination for Macau residents, which he said would be the key enabling the city to relax its travel restrictions, and thereby help the city’s economy to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
“With the vaccination, it can trigger the new opportunity where Macau can get itself open to more neighbouring cities… that could help Macau to recover fast,” said Mr Ho. The added the local authorities were doing “all they can” to secure Covid-19 vaccines for local residents.
Starting from November 23, Hong Kong residents that are currently in either Macau or the Chinese mainland’s Guangdong province can return to their home city without having to go through a 14-day quarantine on arrival in Hong Kong.
But such residents are required to prove they stayed in either Macau or Guangdong province for 14 days prior to their planned return home. They also have to obtain a ‘negative’ test result issued within 72 hours of their planned arrival in Hong Kong.
A Wednesday report by Chinese-language newspaper Sing Tao Daily in Hong Kong suggested the government there planned to offer quarantine-free inbound travel to residents of either Guangdong or Macau travelling directly from those places. Such a unilateral quarantine-free arrangement might be offered from next month, the newspaper suggested, citing anonymous sources.
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