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New COVID-19 measure at Barrier Gate meant to speed up immigration procedures

The new measure announced on Sunday aims to make it more convenient for Macao residents and non-resident workers to enter Macao via the Barrier Gate border checkpoint.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

Addressing Monday’s press conference about Macao’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde S. Januário Hospital Centre, said that the new measure announced on Sunday aims to make it more convenient for Macao residents and non-resident workers to enter Macao via the Barrier Gate border checkpoint.

Lo also said that Macao Health Code’s new validity of six hours was merely a complementary measure of the border crossing procedures for Macao-Zhuhai cross-border commuters, which did not affect the code’s one-day validity for residents to enter certain premises such as public administration offices in Macao.

The local government’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre announced the new measure in a statement on Sunday night, which said that when entering Macao via the Barrier Gate border checkpoint, Macao residents and non-resident workers whose Macao Health Code indicates green and displays a valid nucleic acid test (NAT) certificate can now be exempted from medical examinations and health inspections by Macao Health Bureau (SSM) staff and directly pass through e-channels at the checkpoint, provided that they have generated or renewed their Macao Health Code less than six hours before. The new e-channel measure took effect on Saturday.

The Macao Health Code, a QR three-colour code system, started operating on May 3 when it replaced the Health Bureau’s two previous digital health declaration systems that were required at border checkpoints and for entering public administration premises, casinos and other private premises.

Since May 11, all arrivals from the mainland have had to show a valid NAT certificate before being allowed to enter Macao. A valid NAT certificate refers to either a certificate proving that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the past seven days, or a certificate indicating that they have had their sample collected at least 24 hours before. A traveller’s valid NAT certificate is displayed on the Macao Health Code if they have undergone the test in Macao, while the certificate is displayed on the Guangdong version of the mainland’s health code system if they have undergone the test in medical institutions recognised by the Zhuhai or Guangdong authorities.

The Macao Health Code and the Guangdong version of the mainland’s health code system have been mutually recognised since May 10. If a traveller’s valid NAT certificate is displayed on the Guangdong version of the mainland’s health code system, they will be required to switch the test result to the Macao Health Code when entering Macao, and vice versa.

Sunday’s statement also announced that the Macao Health Code began that day to show its validity time on users’ smartphones. The statement did not further elaborate.

Certain groups of Macao-Zhuhai cross-border commuters are currently exempted from the 14-day quarantine measure imposed by the Guangdong government, such as: 1) Macao people who live in Zhuhai but work in Macao (with a Zhuhai residence permit), 2) Macao residents aged at least 70 or no older than 14, pregnant women, the disabled and the chronically sick (despite not holding a mainland residence permit), 3) Macao pupils and teachers who live in Zhuhai or Zhongshan, and 4) non-resident workers holding a Zhuhai ID card or residence permit. The Macao government has reaffirmed that having undergone a nucleic acid test does not mean that the person will then be exempted from the current 14-day quarantine measure imposed by Guangdong.

According to previous local government announcements, the e-channel service at Macao’s border checkpoints for mainlanders entering Macao had been suspended since late January after the COVID-19 epidemic emerged in Macao. Macao residents, however, can continue to use e-channels to pass through local border checkpoints. Lo said during yesterday’s press conference that before Saturday’s implementation of the new measure – which is only applicable to the Barrier Gate border checkpoint, those entering Macao had to undergo health inspections by Health Bureau staff first – namely showing their green Macao Health Code and valid NAT certificate, before passing through immigration counters or e-channels (e-channels are only for Macao residents), adding that therefore they had to queue twice when entering Macao at local border checkpoints.

No longer checked by health staff

Lo said on Monday that the new measure – which has been implemented since Saturday – allows Macao residents and non-resident workers to directly pass through immigration at the Barrier Gate border checkpoint without needing to be checked by Health Bureau staff. Lo explained that after a Macao resident or non-resident worker has undergone a nucleic acid test – which has a validity of seven days – with its result displayed on the Macao Health Code, and has generated their code on their smartphones less than six hours before entering Macao via the Barrier Gate checkpoint, they can directly pass through immigration counters or e-channels at the checkpoint.

Lo said that during the process they only have to use their ID cards when passing through immigration as normal without any need to take out their smartphones to show their Macao Health Code.

Lo said that the new measure aims to make it faster for Macao residents and non-resident workers to pass through the Barrier Gate border checkpoint, adding that the new measure means that it combines the Health Bureau’s health inspections and the Public Security Police’s immigration procedures.

Health code still valid for whole day in Macao

Lo also clarified that with Saturday’s implementation of the new measure at the Barrier Gate border checkpoint, a person’s Macao Health Code on their smartphones started on Sunday to show a validity time of six hours, pointing out that this does not affect the code’s validity time of one whole day for entering certain premises in Macao such as casinos or government offices.

Before Sunday’s new measure, a person’s Macao Health Code on their smartphones showed a validity time of the same day after they had generated their code. With Sunday’s new measure, a person’s Macao Health Code on their smartphones now only shows a validity time of six hours after they have generated their code.

Lo underlined that the new six-hour validity time aims to make it easier for Macao residents and non-resident workers to know how much time is left – after they have generated their Macao Health Code – before the expiration of the six-hour validity. Lo clarified that for the purposes of entering certain premises in Macao, the Macao Health Code is always valid for the same day when the code is generated, adding this means that residents are allowed to enter the various premises in Macao on any particular day as long as they show their Macao Health Code on their smartphone generated on the same day.

No case in 61 days

Meanwhile, Lo also pointed out that Macao has not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for 61 consecutive days. All of Macao’s 45 COVID-19 patients have been discharged from hospital. Lo said that one discharged patient is still undergoing recovery period isolation at the Health Bureau’s Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Government Information Bureau (GCS)

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:48 am

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