From Jan. 9-23

Macau to enforce 14-day ban on international air arrivals to fight Omicron variant outbreak

Reading time 1:29 min

In an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19’s Omicron variant, Macau is responding by enforcing a 14-day ban on all international air arrivals. The measure was confirmed by Macau’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center on Wednesday.

Due to the policy, all civilian flights are prohibited from carrying passengers to Macau from all foreign countries and jurisdictions, with the exception of mainland China. The measure seeks to reduce the risk of a potential outbreak, which could present a public health issue in the enclave.

The order will be implemented from January 9 to January 23. The world’s largest gaming hub has reported positive cases of COVID-19 as of late, with cases of both Omicron and Delta being detected. People coming from the UK, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand are following hotel quarantine.

On Wednesday, health officials identified three imported asymptomatic cases, corresponding to travelers from the UK and the Philippines. While non-residents will be barred from entering the city, residents returning from outside of China will have to quarantine for at least 21 days.

Macau is far from being the only Chinese territory currently enforcing measures to fight the COVID-19 spread. The Chinese city of Xian is currently on an extended lockdown after authorities detected about 1,800 cases. Meanwhile, Hong Kong imposed on Wednesday a ban on arrivals from selected countries, including Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, Philippines, UK and US.

Along with mainland China and Hong Kong, Macau has enforced some of the harshest measures in the world against the pandemic, including closed borders policies, weeks-long quarantines, targeted lockdowns and mass testing.

The news follows efforts from Macau venues to adapt their operations amid a changing regulatory landscape in the enclave. The market, which heavily relied on junket operations, is now seeking alternatives following an illegal gaming crackdown which led most casinos to close their VIP rooms.

Macau's casinos secured MOP 7.96 million (USD 990.9M) in December, according to data released by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), while the full-year tally went up by 43.7% to MOP 86.8 billion (USD10.8B). However, the overall revenue for 2021 accounts for only 29.5% of pre-pandemic 2019, proving Macau's gaming industry is yet to fully recover from the COVID crisis and its effects.

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