The Chief Executive has said he regrets the decision of the Zhuhai authorities to maintain the mandatory 14-day quarantine for those entering the province of Guangdong through Macao. He said that all indications from the Central Government and the National Health Commission had been followed by the Macao government to ensure the safety of the population in the region.
Ho Iat Seng said that he was in talks with the government of Guangdong Province and Zhuhai Municipality until the early hours of Friday morning, pleading for the border restrictions to be lifted before the National Day celebrations, but without any success.
“We are asking for new guidelines to know what to do when there are new cases,” he said.
“I apologise to the population [of Macao], but we did our best. All the secretaries attended the meeting we had with the Zhuhai authorities, which lasted almost until two in the morning. We did our best, but they insisted [on the 14-day quarantine].
Of course I’m disappointed, as is the population. On a festive day, it is clear that we are waiting for the border crossing to open. Even last year we didn’t have these restrictions, but now, many people want to go to China or want to travel, or even return home. It’s not just my disappointment, but it’s the whole population.”
While not calling the talks closed, the Chief Executive said Guangzhou provincial health experts were adamant that 29 Macao residents’ travel patterns had coincided with the recently confirmed cases, something that Macao authorities said that they do not understand because all the prevention measures had been taken correctly.
The Chief Executive also said that the government would continue discussions with Guangdong Province regarding epidemic-control work and boundary crossing measures.
“The leaders of the province of Guangdong respect the ideas of health experts, so the opinion of experts is almost a decision-making process,” said Ho.
“When we spoke with the Central Government last year about the definitions of the yellow zones and the red zones, [it was agreed that] only people from these zones could not cross the borders. It is a situation in which the Central Government and the National Health Commission have always agreed. We took all the procedures into account, but these instructions, guidelines and demands [from the Provincial Health Commission of Guangdong] were new. We were never told to prepare ourselves. Hence, there was no room for manoeuvre.”
Ho called on members of the public who had not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 to do so at the earliest opportunity, and so fulfil their civic duty.
“Only when the majority of the community has been vaccinated, will the community have a degree of safety in the event of any outbreak. That would help in terms of revitalising the local economy, by making it possible for a greater number of visitors to come to Macao,” Ho said.