Certain foreigners – non-resident workers, spouses or offspring of a Macao resident, or those who've been admitted to local tertiary institutions – can now apply for exemptions from Macao’s months-long ban on foreign nationals entering Macao, provided they enter the city from mainland China.
Addressing Monday’s weekly press conference about Macao’s novel coronavirus situation, the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou announced that certain foreigners, such as non-resident workers, the spouses or offspring of a Macao resident, or those who have been admitted to local higher education institutions, can now apply for exemptions from the Macao government’s months-long ban on foreign nationals entering Macao, provided that they enter the city from the Chinese mainland.
The new measure was also promulgated by an executive order signed by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng and published in the Official Gazette (BO) on Monday.
The potential beneficiaries can now submit an application to the Health Bureau (SSM) for the new measure, which will take effect on 1 December.
Foreign visitors have been barred from entering Macao since 18 March, and the entry ban was extended to foreign non-resident workers the next day. However, foreign nationals holding a Macao ID card are allowed to enter Macao. This means that all foreign nationals without a Macao ID card are currently barred from entering the city, regardless of where they have been before their intended entry into Macao.
The two executive orders signed by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng in March about the entry ban on foreign visitors and foreign non-resident workers state that in the public interest, particularly for the prevention, control and treatment of diseases, aid and emergency measures, and with the aim of ensuring Macao’s normal operation and the provision of daily necessities for residents, Macao’s health authorities can in exceptional cases exempt foreign nationals from the entry ban.
The Health Bureau said early this month that since March, it has exempted certain groups of foreigners from the entry ban in the public interest in line with the two chief executive orders, such as crew members of airlines, diplomats and their family members, senior management staff members of local higher education institutions, those living in the mainland but having to travel to Macao for important meetings, and persons who are “very important” to Macao’s economic recovery such as those involved in the upcoming Macau Grand Prix (MGP). All those foreigners who have been exempted from the entry ban have been subject to Macao’s 14-day quarantine requirement, the bureau said earlier this month.
The Health Bureau first revealed last week that the Macao government was considering further exemptions from the current entry ban for more foreigners in special circumstances, such as those visiting family members who are Macao residents or those with “important” links to Macao.
During Monday’s press conference, Leong said that in certain circumstances, foreign nationals without a Macao ID card who intend to enter Macao from the mainland can now apply for exemption from the Macao government’s current entry ban on foreigners, as long as they have been staying in the mainland for at least 14 days.
According to Leong, the new measure will cover 1) the spouse or offspring of a Macao resident, 2) non-resident workers (blue-card holders) or those who have obtained an official permit to work in Macao as a non-resident worker, and their family members who have obtained or are eligible to obtain a permit to stay in Macao, 3) those who have obtained a special permit to reside in Macao, 4) those who have been admitted to local higher education institutions, and 5) those visiting Macao for important commercial, academic or other professional activities.
For the first category of beneficiaries, the applications will have to be submitted by the Macao residents.
The application, free of charge, can be made by email, letter, or in person – by visiting the office of the bureau’s Disease Prevention and Control Centre in Hotline Centre in Nape.
The applicants will have to submit official documents proving that they have stayed in the mainland for at least 14 days, according to Leong.
The Health Bureau will notify the applicants within 15 working days whether it has approved their applications, Leong said.
According to Leong, the applicants allowed to enter Macao from the mainland will not have to undergo Macao’s 14-day quarantine but have to present a nucleic acid test (NAT) certificate confirming that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the past seven days upon their arrival here.
Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, said during Monday’s press conference that the local government has decided to announce the new measure in advance despite the commencement of its implementation on December 1, with the aim of enabling them to get a better understanding of the new measure and to file their applications in advance.
Macao has not recorded a new COVID-19 case for 136 days, while no local case has been confirmed in 225 days.
Meanwhile, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre will not hold its weekly press conference next Monday as Ho will deliver his 2021 Policy Address to the Legislative Assembly (AL) that day.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Macau Photo Agency