Macau government considers extension of COVID-19 test period


Government officials in Macau are hoping to extend the COVID-19 testing period to 14 days to create further opportunities for tourism in the region.

The Macau Chief Executive Ha Lat Seng met with government officials to discuss the possible options to fight the virus in the local community, reports Inside Asia Gaming.

“A lot of residents have urged us to extend the effective period of COVID-19 virus tests from the current seven days to 14 days, and we proposed this to the Chief Executive at the meeting,” a spokesman said.

“The Chief Executive said the government was studying it as well. The Chief Executive also noted that we had passed through lots of difficulties to reach the current and stable situation in Macau, so we should be cautious about considering any extension. He hoped that residents could understand the government’s decisions and policies on preventive works,” he added.

Extending the testing period for the virus from 7 to 14 days would create opportunities for casino operators to attract interest from the Chinese market, as they look to recoup some profit heading into the final quarter of 2020.

The move comes after the tourism figures for the 2020 Golden Week holiday period were down 90% over the same period as 2019. The stringent social distancing measures enacted in the area have played a major role in the economic downturn, with the trade-off seeing Macau enjoy more than 100 days without any community transmission of COVID-19.

The current health regulations require that all Macau residents and visitors from China must submit a negative COVI-19 test before passing between Macau and mainland China in the sevens of the crossing.

Local government officials are wary of the possibility, citing the increased virus activity in mainland China behind their caution. Macau has struggled to generate the returns of previous years, with Golden week struggling to generate interest from overseas visitors. 

The move comes after the local government announced that it was quarantining all visitors from the Chinese region of Qingdao in Shandong Province. The Chinese city had reported nine cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks. All visitors from the region will be forced into a mandatory two- week quarantine after visiting the region.

Macau continues to report a major downturn from the Golden Week holiday period. The lack of visitors has forced many casino operators to scale back their operations with a long road to recovery expected to continue well into 2021.