As of January 8

Macau lifts most Covid travel restrictions, requiring only a 48-hour test for foreign arrivals

Reading time 1:47 min

According to local media reports, as of January 8, Macau has canceled most of its travel restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, dropping all testing requirements for inbound travelers from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The city has also canceled all restrictions on entries to casinos, no longer requiring the presentation of health codes to enter the gaming facilities.

As per the latest measure, all foreign nationals will again be allowed to enter Macau without mandatory quarentine, returning the major gambling hub to its entrance policies in place before the pandemic. However, despite the relaxation, Macau’s Health Bureau said that other measures could be implemented if deemed necessary.

Macau's Health Secretary, Elsie Ao Ieong U

In a Thursday press conference, Macau's Health Secretary Elsie Ao Ieong U indicated that any entrants from outside of the three aforementioned regions will still need to provide proof of a negative nucleic acid test (NAT) or rapid antigen test (RAT) taken within 48 hours prior to departure on aircraft or ship.

The city’s airport also recommenced its transfer and layover services on Sunday. The city is also going to drop all restrictions on foreign entrants while noting that passport holders from Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nigeria will still need to obtain visas before entering the territory.

Macau faced a wave of Covid-19 infections starting in mid-December. That had coincided with the relaxation of preventive measures, led by changes to mainland China’s strict Covid-19 policy. The Macau authorities had, starting from December 23, lifted quarantine requirements for people arriving in the city either from overseas, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.

Transport options for people wishing to journey between Macau and Hong Kong have also been gradually increasing, with more bus services now available via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. And on December 30, a limited number of ferry services between the Pac On ferry terminal in Taipa and Hong Kong International Airport resumed.

The city's gaming industry has been heavily affected by the pandemic over the last couple of years. Macau casinos posted their worst year since 2004 in 2022 as China's strict Covid Zero policies wrought havoc on the gambling hub.

Gross gaming revenue in December fell 56% from a year earlier to 3.48 billion patacas ($433 million), while revenue for the whole year fell 51% to 42.2 billion patacas ($5.2 million). However, the loosening of pandemic restrictions has fueled optimism about a long-awaited recovery for the year ahead.  

That recovery might begin with the Chinese New Year break, starting on January 21, which traditionally sees a jump in visitation from mainland tourists, and a meaningful increase in Hong Kong tourists.

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