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Government suspends applications for Zhuhai quarantine exemption

The Macao government has temporarily stopped accepting new applications from local residents for exemption from Guangdong’s 14-day quarantine requirement.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

The Macao government has temporarily stopped accepting new applications from local residents for exemption from Guangdong’s 14-day quarantine requirement, as it has received a large number of applications in the short period since Thursday’s launch of the application process and will need time to assess the cases, its Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre announced in a statement on Sunday.

The statement said that the centre will announce when it will resume accepting applications for the quarantine exemption at least a day in advance.

The Macao government launched the online application on Thursday for residents who need to cross the Macao-Zhuhai border for official purposes, business activities or other urgent or special reasons. The new exemption measure, carried out in collaboration with the Zhuhai government, was announced during Wednesday’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre press conference.

According to Wednesday’s announcement, eligible Macao residents have to fill in the online application, which runs from 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. daily, five days prior to their intended entry into Zhuhai. The applications will be first assessed by a working group set up by the local government consisting of officials from the relevant public entities. The working group will pass the list of cases that it has approved to the Public Security Police (PSP) – which run Macao’s immigration service – which will then pass the list on to the Zhuhai authorities, which have the final say on whether to approve the cases for the quarantine exemption.

According to Wednesday’s announcement, Macao residents whose application for the quarantine exemption have been approved will have to undergo a nucleic acid test (NAT) – which has a validity of seven days – two days prior to their intended entry into Zhuhai. The exemption each time is valid for seven days – i.e. they can cross the Macao-Zhuhai border an unlimited number of times within seven days during the exemption period.

During Friday’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre press conference, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde S. Januário Hospital Centre, said that the local government had suspended the application for the quarantine exemption earlier that day as a large number of residents had submitted their applications and the local government would first have to continue to discuss with its Zhuhai counterpart further adjustments to the application and approval procedures.

Lo said during Friday’s press conference that the local government had received 5,474 applications as of 6 p.m. on Thursday – only eight hours since the application was launched at 10 a.m. that day. Lo said that the local government had finished assessing 1,981 applications and passed them to its Zhuhai counterpart for final approval.

Lo said during Friday’s press conference that the local government would resume accepting applications the next morning but only with a limited number of places available for applicants – before Sunday’s statement which announced that it has suspended the application process for the quarantine exemption once more.

Missed ‘lamian’ so much

Lo said during Friday’s press conference that “many” residents had applied for the quarantine exemption on “obviously unreasonable” grounds, which caused the local government to spend more time on assessing the applications

Lo said that some of the reasons mentioned by the applicants were “possibly just mischief”. Lo said that, for instance, an applicant said that he missed “lamian” (a popular type of “stretched noodles”) so much which is served in eateries in Zhuhai, while another applicant said that he had not been out and about in Zhuhai for a long time.

Lo underlined that it takes the local government one or two days to assess and provisionally approve each application before passing it to its Zhuhai counterpart for final approval.

Lo also said that it would be “difficult” for the local government to punish those who are “not serious” when filling in the online applications, as some people possibly fill in the information carelessly due to their low-level educational background or because they don’t know how to correctly fill in the application, adding that punishing this type of applicant would be “too harsh”.

Lo urged residents to only apply for the quarantine exemption if absolutely needed, and to indicate their reasons for the application clearly and completely, adding that only then would the local government be able to clearly know the exact number of residents who really have an urgent or special need to cross the Macao-Zhuhai border so that it could realistically aim for a higher quota for the quarantine exemption granted by its Zhuhai counterparts.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

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