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Entry restrictions likely to remain in place for the time being

Non-resident foreigners still barred, while mainland visitors will continue to face complex visa process to enter Macao.

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Non-resident foreigners still barred, while mainland visitors will continue to face complex visa process to enter Macao.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has indicated that the entry ban on non-resident foreigners is unlikely to be lifted in the near future.

Speaking following his Policy Address to the Legislative Assembly, Ho said that whether Macao would open its borders to non-resident foreigners was a “trade-off”. He said that if Macao suffered new local Covid-19 cases following the lifting of the ban, the mainland would impose mandatory quarantine on arrivals from Macao. 

Ho noted that currently on average 350,000 people – such as residents, non-resident workers and visitors –  travel between Macao and the mainland per day, which means about 10 million travellers between the two regions per month. 

Ho said that if the mainland imposed quarantine on arrivals from Macao it would have an adverse effect on the daily commuters. Consequently, Ho said, whether to lift the entry ban on non-resident foreigners would be a “trade-off”.

Ho underlined that Macao has to carry out its Covid-19 entry and quarantine measures in conjunction with the mainland, adding that that’s why Macao still cannot lift its quarantine for arrivals from Hong Kong. The lifting of quarantine will have to be implemented between the three regions of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao at the same time, Ho noted.

In related news, Ho had told reporters in September that only after Macao reaches a Covid-19 vaccination rate of at least 80 per cent, could the local government ask the mainland authorities to resume the electronic application process for mainlanders to obtain a visa to Macao, and to resume the permission to organise tour groups to the city.

Currently, Macao’s vaccination rate stands at about 70 per cent, meaning about 70 per cent of the population has been vaccinated against Covid-19 at least once. 

Ho said that after Macao reaches a vaccination rate of at least 80 per cent, the resumption of tour groups to Macao will “surely” get off the ground in some provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in the first phase. Ho underlined that the Macao government has been discussing the matter with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Beijing. 

However, Ho said that “last time I did not say that the electronic application process for a travel visa to Macao will resume” after Macao reaches a Covid-19 vaccination rate of at least 80 per cent. But the chief executive was quick to add that the local government will request the mainland authorities to consider resuming the electronic application process.

The issue of Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) travel permits for all mainlanders to travel to Macao resumed in September last year. However, despite the resumption of the issuing of IVS travel permits, mainlanders wishing to visit Macao have still been subject to certain restrictions, as the mainland authorities have still not resumed the electronic application process for a travel visa to Macao.

Without the resumption of the electronic application process, mainlanders have to go to police service points in person to file an application for a visa to Macao. With the electronic application process in place, which was implemented before the pandemic, mainlanders were able to apply for a visa to Macao at self-service kiosks.

Ho said yesterday that the resumption of the electronic application process will result in an enormous increase in the number of mainland visitors to Macao with an IVS travel permit, which, Ho said, the mainland authorities do not want to occur for the time being, The Macau Post Daily reported.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

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