Macau’s gambling industry is in trouble until tourism comes back, and with most international travel still being held up by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s hard to say when that will happen. But thanks to the efforts of chief executive Ho Iat Seng, they are slowly getting to place where they can be helpful, and concessionaires can’t wait.
On June 10, Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U announced residents of Macau with “business or practical travel needs” will be able to apply to the Health Bureau for exemption to travel to Zhuhai without a medical examination. They can begin applying on June 11, and more details are expected to be announced on June 12.
To receive the exemption, residents will have to undergo medical tests two days before their intended travel, but should they receive the exemption, they’ll be able to travel back and forth for a week with no further testing.
The Macau government will also be launching a shuttle service to the Hong Kong International Airport, intended to bring residents back who may have been stranded abroad. These locals will have to be quarantined for two weeks before they are allowed to freely move around the special administrative region.
These announcements come just a week after Macau’s chief executive traveled to Guangdong to discuss how to relax border restrictions. While his apparent success appears to be limited for now, if this small measure goes well, it’s promising for greater cross boarder travel in the future.
And resort operators like Galaxy Entertainment Group sorely need that kind of relief. Chairman Lui Che Woo revealed that the company hopes travel restrictions are lifted soon, as the company spends $2.8 million per day under the status quo. “The suspension of casinos surely impacted our business greatly,” Lui told local reporters, following Galaxy’s annual general meeting for shareholders. “It is hard to calculate our loss during the pandemic, but we must follow and respect the government policies in preventing the spread.”
Before Hong Kong saw a sudden spike in their own infection numbers, Galaxy had hoped travel would open up between that city, Macau and Guandong. Now that they have to wait for a more gradual return of tourism, he said the company is doing its best to keep controlling costs.