Macau is on the road to recovery, but will have to face a couple of roadblocks along the way. The city desperately wants to get its casinos back in action as quickly as possible and needs to have open borders and free travel to help make this possible. However, Hong Kong, which is always an important travel feeder for Macau, is extending its quarantine rules, and this could have an impact on the city’s timeline for a return to normal operating levels.
Hong Kong has a two-week quarantine rule in place for anyone arriving from Macau, Taiwan or mainland China. It was previously expected that the quarantine requirement could be lifted by August 7; however, the government has now extended the period to September 7 in light of a modest spike in the number of positive coronavirus tests seen in the city. According to the government, there were 113 new infections recorded yesterday, the highest daily increase since COVID-19 made its first appearance.
There has been a total of 721 infections in Hong Kong since July 6, per a report by the South China Morning Post, and a total of 2,131 cases overall. The origin of many of them can’t be identified; however, there is at least one clue. An employee at the Hong Kong Jockey Club recently tested positive, and health officials are now exploring whether or not others at the facility may be infected.
When it seemed like the worst of the coronavirus saga was in the past, Macau, Hong Kong and others began relaxing lockdown orders, but free travel was still not permitted. Anyone arriving to Macau has to show a negative coronavirus test and Macau still has a mandatory two-week quarantine requirement in place for certain arrivals, including those from Hong Kong. Given that Hong Kong accounts for around 18.7% of Macau’s traffic, according to numbers from last year, it’s a substantial market that the city needs to be able to embrace in order to move forward.
There’s talk of possibly including Hong Kong in a “travel bubble” arrangement that would include mainland China and Macau. However, the recent increases in positive COVID-19 tests in the city could impact the decision of whether or not Hong Kong can be greenlighted for participation. This week’s sudden spike will only further hurt the city’s chances, which, ultimately, hurts Macau’s recovery efforts, as well.