Macau’s so-called “consolidation” phase in terms of the current Covid-19 outbreak has been extended by three more days, from 12am on Saturday (July 30), to 12am at the start of Tuesday (August 2), with more Covid-19 associated restrictions to be eased during this extended period, according to the latest government update.
The local authorities have previously mandated July 23 to July 29 as a consolidation phase, a period when most businesses deemed non-essential – including casinos – were allowed to reopen with conditions on operating capacity. During this phase, a mandate on the wearing of KN95 or N95-standard masks outdoors has also been enforced.
Senior health official Leong Iek Hou said in a press briefing on Thursday the fresh round of easing measures included dropping the KN95 or N95 mask requirements, and permitting shopping malls and interior decoration firms to restart operation.
As of Thursday, Macau had seen no fresh “red-coded” zones, which are earmarked areas for lockdown in local communities.
In the 24 hours to midnight at the end of Thursday, only two new cases of Covid-19 were detected, and then only in people already either in quarantine or under observation. There has been no fresh community case since July 25.
The tally in the current and worst Macau outbreak since the start of the pandemic crisis, is 1,821 cases recorded since June 18. Virus sub-variant Omicron BA.5, said to be highly infectious, has been identified as an agent. As a result of the outbreak, the city’s casinos had been ordered to close from July 11 to July 22.
It had recently been announced that Macau’s population was being subjected to a fresh nucleic acid test (NAT) round, with procedures to take place on either Saturday or Sunday.
If the results prove to have yielded a “low” number of Covid-19 positive cases – or the cases are found to have a “clear” transmission path – the Macau government would in likelihood further ease Covid-19 restrictions from August 2, said Ms Leong. Such steps would be likely to include a lowering of the frequency of NATs required for certain professional groups, and the resumption of dine-in restaurant services, she stated.
A number of the city’s non-gaming entertainment venues, including cinemas, amusements parks and spas, have been closed since June 23. Outdoor leisure areas, such as parks and gardens, will gradually reopen. Restaurant dining-in continues to be temporarily banned, with only takeaway sales allowed.
Nonetheless, the government has said it is minded to introduce some time during the first week of August, a requirement that users of facilities that require removal of a face mask – including restaurants – would need to show a NAT test result proving they are ‘negative’ for Covid infection.
Details regarding such a step are yet to be announced by the local health authorities.
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