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Macao partially re-opens on Saturday: limited operations for casinos, NATs for key groups and workers

Residents may take short walks and exercise pets under next week’s ‘consolidation period’ as city struggles back to normality after month-long Omicron blitz; KN95 mask compulsory.

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Residents may take short walks and exercise pets under next week’s ‘consolidation period’ as city struggles back to normality after month-long Omicron blitz; KN95 mask compulsory.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:41 am

Macao took one small step closer back to “business as usual” today, with the news that casinos could start limited operations and residents could take a short walk and exercise their dogs.

The welcome announcement came after the city had laboured under mass-testing and severe restrictions for over a month, with thousands locked down in Red Code Zones as health workers sought to stamp out the Omicron variant which flared up on 18 June.

As a further sign of the return of normality, from Saturday all three of the city’s bus companies will restart normal services, plying 83 routes.

From 24-29 July, seven key groups of workers must undergo daily nucleic acid test (NAT) and others who continue to work but not from home will have to take the test every two days at the city’s 58 testing stations. On 30 and 31 July, all residents, including senior citizens, will need to take a NAT. Only children aged three or under will be exempt.

On Wednesday evening, the numbers indicated that Macao was doing its best to hold Covid-19 in check. Health officials recorded 1,783 confirmed cases, but said that 83 patients were released today taking the total number of recovered patients to 569. Nearly 3,000 people remain under medical observation in hotels.

Among the 1,783 positive cases under observation, around 38.5 per cent are symptomatic and the rest are asymptomatic. Out of the total cases, only around 10 per cent develop pneumonia while the rest mostly have sore throat and coughing.

Speaking at the daily Covid-19 briefing, Elsie Ao Ieong, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, said: “We have all the necessary conditions to enter the consolidation phase and start to gradually resume normal activities.”

“We will continue with NATs and rapid antigen tests during the consolidation. Buses will start running normally, but only with 60 per cent of passengers.”

“We appeal to residents to stay in the area where they live, so that we can control the situation and allow us to do more openings in order to return to normal life.”

“Pets will be allowed to go out, but only in the areas where owners live.”

“We do not yet have the right conditions to open the borders to Zhuhai. We have presented some proposals to the Zhuhai authorities but no decision has been made yet. When we reach zero cases, we will review the situation.”

“With the new consolidation period, residents can go to work or go shopping.”

“Guia, the Macao Reservoir and Leisure Area on Taipa Waterfront will be open for walking.”

The secretary also said that the consolidation period might be extended for one more week, but it all depended on the situation. If confirmed Covid-19 cases are increased again, Macao might go back into a partial lockdown period.

Health Bureau Director Alvis Lo Iek Long added: “After this first phase of the consolidation period we will continue to open step-by-step until there is a complete return to normal life.”

“Casinos can open under certain conditions, which include general disinfection, while only half the staff will be allowed to work at any one time.”

“Seven selective groups must continue to do daily NATs and RATs. They include cleaning services, public transportation drivers (buses and taxi) and security guards, property management, stay-out domestic helpers, food delivery and catering.”

“No shops are allowed to open inside shopping malls. And every citizen should maintain social distancing and only occupy two square metres.”

“We are almost reaching the zero case in the fight against Covid-19.”

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:41 am

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