Macau’s government announced Monday that tourist visas, through which the majority of gamblers visit casinos in the Chinese territory, will be reinstated for the neighbouring city of Zhuhai, paving the way for a revival of visitors. However, Macau tightened entry rules for Hong Kong visitors last week.
Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Ieong U announced today that the highly anticipated individual visit scheme (IVS) would resume from August 12, Reuters reports.
Casinos in the world’s biggest gambling hub have experienced heavy losses since February when travel dried up due to the coronavirus. Greater China accounts for more than 90% of Macau’s tourists. Executives have said that without a resumption of the IVS scheme there will not be much hope for casino operators.
The announcement comes nearly a month after China loosened coronavirus-related border restrictions between Macau and the neighbouring coastal province of Guangdong.
The direct impact on gaming revenue from the Zhuhai IVS restart is likely to be limited, said Vitaly Umansky, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong. “However, the restart of IVS and group visa issuance (which has been suspended since late January) is another baby step in the right direction as China and Macau slowly loosen travel between the two jurisdictions.”
Moreover, Macau decided last week to tighten restrictions on people travelling from Hong Kong, saying people arriving in the city will now have to produce certificates issued within 24 hours to show that they are not infected with coronavirus, as reported by Macau News. The new restrictions on the neighbouring city comes on the heels of Guangdong authorities also implementing similar measures as Hong Kong continues to battle a third wave of coronavirus cases since last month.
Macau said visitors from Hong Kong should provide results of a nucleic acid test (NAT) that was done within the last 72 hours. But this was further tightened with the new requirement, which went into effect from Friday morning. The authorities said those arriving without the new requirement may be denied entry. Those who are allowed in will be quarantined at designated locations for 14 days. Authorities in Macau also told public transport operators that they should not provide service to anyone without such proof.
In an announcement made overnight, Guangdong officials had said from last Friday 10 am, anyone who enters Guangzhou via the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint or the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge must carry a test result issued in the previous 24 hours. The certificate has to be issued by medical institutions recognised by the Hong Kong government, the announcement said. On entry, visitors to the mainland area also have to be quarantined for 14 days.