Filipino domestic helpers can apply to work in Macao from 25 April, signalling a gradual easing in Covid-19 regulations and a welcome relief for the city’s overburdened labour market.
Domestic helpers from other countries may be allowed to apply later, while the government is also considering easing the door for foreign teachers at some stage in the future.
Filipino domestic helpers face strict entry requirements, as they will need to be double-jabbed, and to have a booster shot if their vaccinations took place more than seven months prior.
Applications will only be considered if the domestic helpers are being hired to take care of over-65s, under-threes or the seriously ill. Prospective employers must apply to the Public Security Police and the Health Bureau, and will need to have had two doses of Covid-19 vaccine.
Announcing the pilot scheme, Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said that the measure aims to help alleviate the labour shortage caused by the pandemic. He added that the Philippines could provide reliable health records most readily, which was why its citizens had been chosen first.
Macao banned non-residents from entering the city in March 2020 and subsequent pandemic restrictions and labour law changes have exacerbated the city’s employment woes.
Currently, according to official figures, there are 168,442 non-resident work permit holders, known as blue cards, in the city, 28,096 less than before the pandemic broke out. The number of non-resident domestic workers has dropped to 25,632, two-thirds of whom are Filipino.
Macao authorities have suggested that residents hire domestic workers from mainland China, however potential employers, citing higher wages, have generally responded negatively.