The rule whereby mainland residents returning from Macau to Guangdong province via Zhuhai were required to undergo a 14-day quarantine is to be removed from Wednesday (July 15), according to mainland and Macau authorities.
Macau residents will also be able to travel to nine cities in Guangdong without needing to enter quarantine in Zhuhai. Hong Kong residents are not part of the quarantine-free arrangement.
A Tuesday note from JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd said that, at this stage, the measure was “practically for only Guangdong residents/workers.”
But analysts DS Kim, Derek Choi and Jeremy An, added: “We were positively surprised by the scale of the travel bubble, since there was no mention of daily quota or limits on leisure travellers.” They added it was “an important step toward normalisation” of travel for the Macau visitor market.
Mainlanders have mostly not needed to undergo any form of quarantine to enter Macau. For a while, people travelling either from Hubei, the Chinese province at the centre of China’s outbreak of Covid-19, or from Beijing, did have to undergo such a process, but those rules were recently removed.
A Tuesday memo from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd noted that even after the new rule relaxations for travel into Guangdong, there were “lots of hurdles still in place”.
“While this is a step in the right direction, there continue to be restrictive hurdles on movement into an out of Macau,” said analysts Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Kelsey Zhu.
They added: “Individuals coming to Macau from outside of Guangdong would face difficulties in travel as they would likely need to stay in Guangdong for two weeks prior to travelling home, which will severely restrict visitation. Further, there is still no word on the timing of restart of Individual Visit Scheme [visa] issuance (or group travel visa issuance).”
Nonetheless, shares of Macau casino operators listed on the Hong Kong bourse, rallied on Tuesday morning. As of 9.30am, shares of those companies were trending up by between 8 percent and 16 percent, indicated data from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
According to the Macau government, prior to entering Guangdong, travellers due to set out from Macau will need to complete a nucleic acid test at test institutions recognised by both Guangdong and Macau, to prove they are negative for Covid-19 infection, and to make a declaration of their good health via a so-called health code system.
The new rule on quarantine-free travel from Macau to Guangdong does not apply to those that have been diagnosed with Covid-19; those suspected of being infected; those that have been in close contact with Covid-19 patients; those that have displayed symptoms of fever or other respiratory illness; or those that had been overseas in the 14 days prior to their intended entry into Guangdong province.
In other developments on Monday, it emerged that those arriving in Macau who have been in Beijing in the two weeks prior to their trip, will no longer need to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
The news was given on Monday at a regular Macau government briefing for the media on the Covid-19 alert.
The quarantine condition for those that had been in Beijing prior to Macau arrival, had been introduced with effect from June 17, in response to a fresh outbreak of sickness in some locations in the Chinese capital.
Monday’s briefing heard that a similar quarantine rule for people that had been in Hubei province 14 days prior to coming to Macau – imposed on January 27 – had also been lifted.
No mainland places were any longer considered “high risk” by the Macau government, said Leong Iek Hou, an official of Macau’s Health Bureau.
“That means arrivals… that have been there [Hubei or Beijing] in the past 14 days… don’t need to undertake the quarantine measure here,” said Ms Leong. “This is based on our assessment of the pandemic changes in mainland China and the risks involved,” she added.
Separately on Monday, Macau’s Official Gazette mentioned a dispatch from the city’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, removing with effect from Tuesday (July 14) a prior ban on entering the city’s casinos that had applied to people who had been in Hubei in the 14 days prior to arrival in Macau. The ban had been in place since January 27, according to the gazette.
The better news on movement rules came the same day that Macau announced all arrivals to the city travelling from Hong Kong via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau (HKZM) Bridge would be required to show a negative test result for Covid-19 infection valid within seven days of travel.
On Sunday, the Macau authorities said all people departing via ferry or flight from Macau would also have to show the same paperwork in order to travel. The measures were said to be for the safety of fellow passengers and transport workers.
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"The most worrying [thing] is whether [mainland] China will again tighten the issuance of travel visas [for visits to Macau]"
Luiz Lam Kai Kuong
Macau junket investor