Macau might not be an initial beneficiary from Hong Kong’s first modest steps at introducing small-scale, quarantine-free travel in and out of that metropolis, reported on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively several Chinese-language media outlets in Hong Kong.
Travel arrangements of that nature by Hong Kong are more likely to be with the neighbouring Chinese mainland province of Guangdong as the region seeks to emerge from the initial Covid-19 emergency, suggested the outlets, variously citing sources none of them identified.
In terms of inbound travel to Macau under normal conditions, Hong Kong residents were the second-largest group of visitors – after those from mainland China – among the more than 39 million arrivals to Macau in 2019. Hong Kongers accounted for just over 7.35 million trips – or about 18.7 percent – of Macau’s annual total, according to data from Macau’s Statistics and Census Service. Not all tourists to Macau are gamblers in the city’s casinos.
Hong Kong media suggested that city’s government would soon announce details of a local version of a “health code” declaration system seen as a precondition of easing travel. It would require people to affirm they are free from Covid-19 infection. Guangdong and Macau have their own distinct health declaration systems.
Reports from Hong Kong also indicated the city would permit on a limited scale – at the earliest by Monday (June 29) – some quarantine-free cross-border travel between the city’s Lok Ma Chau control point and Huanggang port in the neighbouring mainland city of Shenzhen in Guangdong. Those eligible to use it would be certain Hong Kong residents – in likelihood people that have business needs. They would not need to undergo quarantine in Guangdong on arrival, provided they had a health declaration backed by an up-to-date negative test result for Covid-19 infection.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, was on Tuesday morning asked about a possible similar arrangement involving Macau as well as Guangdong.
She said there were still “technical issues” to resolve for imposing a quarantine-free travel arrangement with the authorities in Guangdong and Macau, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
The outlet also cited Hong Kong’s top local official as noting that the Hong Kong and Macau governments were working hard to make intercity travel possible for residents of the two places.
The Hong Kong government announced in early June the extension until July 7 of a deadline for ending its 14-day quarantine rule for those arriving from Macau, mainland China and Taiwan. The announcement was made against the backdrop of the city having recorded several fresh clusters of Covid-19 infection at the time.
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