Ho Iat-seng, the Chief Executive of Macau. Photo: @NCV.Macao, Facebook

The Macau government announced on Tuesday it would forbid people from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland who had been overseas in the past 14 days from entering the gaming city from Wednesday.

People from those three places who have not been abroad in the past 14 days will still be allowed to enter Macau, but will be subject to 14 days of medical surveillance. The ban will not apply to anyone who is a resident of Macau.

Ho Iat-seng, the Chief Executive of Macau, said the new anti-epidemic measures were not in revenge for those announced by Hong Kong on Monday, but were in fact launched at the Hong Kong government’s request. Ho said Macau would continue to rely heavily on Hong Kong, which is now the gaming city’s only external channel. 

Ho said someone had suggested to him that Macau should completely close its border, but that could affect overseas Macanese students who used Hong Kong airport, the cash deliverers and local people who had to visit Hong Kong hospitals. 

Ho said Macau and Hong Kong maintained a friendly relationship. 

With a population of about 620,000, Macau recorded only 10 cases of coronavirus infections since it launched a series of anti-epidemic measures in January. In February, the city closed its casinos for 14 days and recorded no new cases of infection for 40 days since then. In March, it has so far recorded another 15 imported cases, including overseas students and migrant workers, due to the pandemic overseas.

Ho said Tuesday that he was not considering another shutdown of Macau’s casinos for the moment.

However, Ho said Macau was now facing another challenge as the government failed to persuade hotel owners to change their facilities into quarantine centers. Ho urged the gaming companies to offer help as a way to fulfill their social responsibility. 

Macau banned foreign non-residents last week, with Hong Kong to follow suit from Wednesday. The Hong Kong government announced on Monday that people arriving from Taiwan and Macau could still enter Hong Kong, but they will have to be home quarantined from Wednesday. 

Prior to this, hundreds of Hong Kong people continued to go gambling in Macau on day trips. These people will have less incentive to visit Macau from Wednesday as they will be quarantined for 14 days when arriving in Macau and for another 14 days when returning to Hong Kong.

Like Hong Kong, Macau is also now banning transit passengers at its airport. Hong Kong saw the number of cases double to 356 over the last two weeks. Taiwan recorded 195 cases.

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