The Hong Kong government has extended to August 7 its deadline for the end of a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals from Macau, mainland China and Taiwan. The previous deadline was July 7.
The Hong Kong authorities said however that they were “working closely” with their counterparts in Macau and the neighbouring Guangdong province in mainland China, on a mutual recognition system of Covid-19 test results and mutual exemption from compulsory quarantine arrangements.
“We will consider relaxing the restrictions on cross-boundary movement of people among the three places within certain limits in order to facilitate those with essential needs to travel between Guangdong and Hong Kong or between Hong Kong and Macau,” the Hong Kong authorities stated in a press release issued on Tuesday.
Details on such arrangement could be announced this week, according to comments by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (pictured in a file photo), during a Tuesday press conference.
Although the respective boundaries between mainland China and Macau and between Macau and Hong Kong remain open for travel, a raft of restrictions – including a 14-day quarantine requirement in Zhuhai for most mainland residents wishing to visit Macau and then return via Zhuhai; and a 14-day quarantine in each direction for travel between Macau and Hong Kong – have hugely depressed tourism numbers and, consequently, gross gaming revenue in Macau.
Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, said last week that he was watching to see whether there would be any “good news” in July regarding easing of regional intercity travel restrictions brought about by Covid-19.
He added there had been hopes of action during June, but a fresh cluster of infections in China’s capital Beijing had caused some changes of approach.
“Based on the language of the [Hong Kong government] announcement, we suspect the initial phase of the ‘travel bubble’ between Hong Kong and Macau (and from Guangdong via Hong Kong to Macau) will be limited in scale, likely for non-leisure travellers with certain quota,” said JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd in a note.
“As such, all eyes should now be on the pace and scale of border re-opening between Macau and Guangdong (Guangdong accounted for 46 percent of Chinese visitors to Macau last year), which might happen on a wider scale (such as including leisure travellers with negative Covid-19 test results), though the visibility remains low,” wrote on Tuesday analysts DS Kim, Derek Choi and Jeremy An.
Macau and the neighbouring city of Zhuhai, in Guangdong province, have already implemented a scheme allowing for a limited number of non-leisure travellers to travel quarantine-free between the two cities.