The Macao SAR Government is making an all-out effort to prevent an outbreak in the city of the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, applying a string of special measures in accordance with Law No. 2/2004 on the Prevention, Control and Treatment of Infectious Diseases. The Macao Government is highly vigilant, strictly complying with the guidelines on preventive measures set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China.
The coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected tourism around the world, impacting transport links to Macao (read more here) and the city’s hospitality industry (read more here). To counter the effects of the COVID-19 episode on the Macao economy, the Macao Government has announced a MOP20-billion set of economic relief measures, including tax breaks and financial support schemes (read more here). A second round of financial relief was announced in April.
On 30 January, the WHO declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern”. On 11 March, the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared that the coronavirus outbreak had become a pandemic, meaning infection cases have been reported all around the world.
In Macao, the first case of infection linked to the coronavirus was confirmed on 22 January; that was followed by nine other cases detected in the city in the ensuing two weeks. No new cases were reported in Macao between 4 February and 15 March. Of the initial 10 patients, seven involved visitors from Wuhan and three were Macao residents. As of 6 March, all those patients had recovered and been discharged from hospital.
Between 15 March and 8 April, a total of 35 new cases of infection – all labelled as ‘imported’ – were reported in Macao. All the patients had travelled recently to Macao from either Europe, the United States, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia or the Philippines. The cases involved respectively: five Macao non-resident workers; two family members of one of the infected non-resident workers; the fiancé of another of the infected non-resident workers; a Spanish national doing business in Macao; 13 Macao residents studying abroad; the mother of one of those students; the mother and father of another of the infected students; one Macao resident returning from Portugal; two Macao residents returning from the United Kingdom; one Macao resident that had previously been to Thailand and Hong Kong; one Macao resident returning from Ireland; one Macao resident returning from the United States; two Macao residents returning from the Philippines; one Macao resident returning from Cambodia; and one Australian tourist that had previously visited the United States and the United Kingdom. As of 13 May, 33 patients had recovered and been discharged from hospital care; the other two were being kept in isolation for treatment at the Public Health Clinical Centre in Coloane.
The Macao Health Bureau asks all Macao residents and visitors to use protective face masks while in public, to stay at home as much as possible, and to avoid gathering in groups and crowds. Residents are recommended to avoid travel: the Tourism Crisis Management Office issued on 19 March a level-two travel alert – the second-highest in a three-tier system – covering all overseas countries and territories, advising people in Macao to avoid non-essential trips to those areas.
As part of its disease control and prevention effort, the Government set up the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre in January. The Centre has published a Facebook page (available at https://www.facebook.com/NCV.Macao/) to communicate its recommendations for controlling the viral pneumonia outbreak.
In addition to delivering the latest updates on the coronavirus situation in Macao through the usual online channels, the Government has set up a special website at https://gcloud.gcs.gov.mo/clarify, and a channel on messaging platform Telegram to keep the public informed. The Government is also holding press conferences daily to inform the public through the news media about the latest developments.
Since January, the Government has taken a range of public health-related measures to control the outbreak, with the support of the Central Government, businesses, associations and the broader community. The measures are intended to help ensure Macao residents and visitors are protected. These steps are meant to reduce flows of people into Macao and reduce contact between members of the public, with a view to lowering the chances of spreading the virus.
Local authorities have introduced in May a colour-based Health Code system that assigns individuals the colour green, yellow or red, depending on whether they should be allowed into public spaces. Quick response codes, commonly abbreviated to QR codes, are assigned to individuals based on information they supply via an online form, and data related to COVID-19 cases in Macao compiled by the Health Bureau.
Other measures introduced include:
a) Tourism and transport
- Suspension by the Central Government of the Individual Visit Scheme for visits to Macao by Mainland residents;
- Suspension of tours from Mainland China to Macao, and of tours in the opposite direction;
- All travellers from overseas countries are prohibited from entering Macao;
- Residents either of Mainland China, of Hong Kong or of the Taiwan region that have been abroad – i.e. in places other than Mainland China, Hong Kong and the Taiwan region – in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Macao, are barred from entering Macao. If they have been either in Hong Kong or the Taiwan region, in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Macao, they must go into mandatory quarantine for 14 days in selected facilities in Macao;
- Residents either of Mainland China, of Hong Kong or of the Taiwan region that have not been abroad nor have been in Hong Kong or the Taiwan region, in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Macao, can enter Macao without need for quarantine. Visitors from Hubei, or residents of places other than Macao that have visited Hubei in the preceding 14 days, must produce an official medical declaration stating they are free of COVID-19 infection;
- Macao residents that have been out of the city in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Macao, must be placed under mandatory quarantine for 14 days in selected facilities in Macao. Macao residents that have been only to Mainland China in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Macao, are exempted from the measure;
- All transit via the Macau International Airport by air travellers is suspended;
- Passengers boarding aircraft bound for Macao must produce an official medical declaration stating they are free of COVID-19 infection;
- Curtailment of the opening hours of the Border Gate, the busiest crossing to Zhuhai in neighbouring Guangdong. The reduced operating hours were from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Border Gate checkpoint has since 3 May resumed normal opening hours, i.e. from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. the following day;
- Introduction of temperature screening for all travellers, at all points of entry and exit in Macao, including the airport, ferry terminals and land border crossings;
- A requirement for all travellers to complete a personal health declaration through the Macao Health Code system when they enter the city;
- Reduction in the frequency of Light Rapid Transit (LRT) elevated railway services;
- A requirement for all passengers using public transport, including taxis, to wear protective face masks;
- Enhanced disinfection measures at points of entry to Macao, the airport, bus stops, taxi ranks, LRT facilities and other places frequented by travellers.
b) Education, culture and sport
- Resumption of classes – after the Lunar New Year holiday – at all levels of non-tertiary education was postponed until further notice; the original announcement was made on 24 January. Tertiary education classes were resumed in stages beginning on 1 April; resumption of junior secondary classes took place on 11 May, and senior secondary classes restarted on 4 May. Classes at kindergartens and primary schools remain suspended until further notice. Schools and institutions of higher education were urged, whenever possible, to make use of online teaching resources during the period of class suspension;
- Classes at nurseries subsidised by the Government are suspended. All other nurseries are advised to suspend classes;
- Suspension of activities at private tutorial centres and continuing education institutions from late January until 1 March inclusive. Activities were allowed to resume starting 2 March;
- Mainland students studying in Macao, waiting to resume their studies, are recommended to not return to Macao until classes restart. They are advised to stay at home in their area of residency;
- Cancellation of all major public events put on by the Macao Government scheduled in the short term, and the temporary closure of public cultural, sports and leisure venues between 24 January and 1 March inclusive (read more here).
c) Gaming and entertainment
- Suspension of operations at all casino facilities in Macao for 15 days (from 5 February to 19 February);
- Introduction of special arrangements for density of seating for casino customers at gaming tables and slot machines, and introduction of a minimum space required between operational gaming tables;
- A requirement for all workers and patrons at the city’s casinos to wear protective face masks, and to complete a personal health declaration through the Macao Health Code system when they enter a gaming floor;
- Introduction of temperature screening for all workers and patrons at all Macao casinos;
- Suspension of operations at various types of entertainment facilities from 5 February until 1 March inclusive. The facilities covered by the suspension order included cinemas, theatres, indoor playgrounds, game centres, internet cafes, billiard rooms, bowling alleys, steam baths, massage parlours, beauty salons, fitness centres, health clubs, karaoke parlours, bars, nightclubs, discotheques and dance halls. Operations were allowed to resume starting 2 March.
- Introduction of a special programme of reserving stocks of protective face masks for sale to Macao residents and non-resident workers in the city. The programme allows a packet of 10 face masks to be bought every 10 days for MOP8;
- Creation of special quarantine centres at a number of local hotels to house temporarily people that have no symptoms of disease and are not considered suspected cases, but that are required to stay in quarantine because of their recent travel to places affected by the coronavirus outbreak (read more here).
e) Public administration
- Employees of the Government – with the exception of staff providing emergency and essential public services – were asked to work either from home or via a flexible office schedule, according to the requirements of their respective service. The measure was implemented following the end of the Lunar New Year holiday period and extended until the end of February, with only basic services available to the public. Government departments resumed normal public services on 2 March. Private companies were urged to consider adopting the Government’s arrangements;
- Temperature checks at the entrances to all Government buildings;
- A requirement for anyone visiting a Government building to complete a personal health declaration through the Macao Health Code system;
- The Municipal Affairs Bureau is boosting its cleaning and disinfection of public spaces and facilities.
- Macao-registered non-resident workers from overseas countries, if currently outside the city, are prohibited – since 19 March – from re-entering Macao. The ban does not cover those registered non-resident workers who at the same time are residents either of Mainland China, Hong Kong or the Taiwan region;
- Non-resident workers that have been to Mainland China in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Macao must undergo quarantine and obtain a certificate confirming they are not infected by the COVID-19 virus, in order to gain access to Macao. Since 11 May, non-resident workers who are Zhuhai ID holders or have official residence there and that have been to Mainland China in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Macao, are exempted from the quarantine requirement as long as they have a valid certificate confirming they are not infected by the COVID-19 virus and have been assigned a ‘green’ code under the Macao Health Code system;
- Before taking the measure above, the Government urged businesses employing non-resident workers that commute daily from Mainland China to Macao to allow non-essential staff to remain at home until further notice. It added that businesses should, whenever possible, provide temporary accommodation in Macao for all other non-resident workers that commute daily between Mainland China and Macao, in order to reduce movement across the border;
- Workers in retailing and other service industries that deal with the public are advised to use protective face masks while on duty.
| MGTO helps tourism trade, visitors to keep up to date with disease prevention measures|
The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) is working diligently to keep the tourism trade sector and visitors to the city up to date with the latest guidelines on COVID-19 disease prevention as issued by the Macao SAR Government. Such work is part of the effort by the local authorities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Office urges the tourism industry and all visitors to Macao to comply strictly with the preventive measures implemented by the local authorities.
MGTO is using a wide range of channels – including mobile phone messages and smartphone applications – to reach out to visitors. The goal is to inform them about the COVID-19 preventive measures and urge visitors to heed them. Related information is being made available through MGTO’s official accounts on several social media platforms, including WeChat, Weibo, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Office has provided support to the local health authorities in distributing to hotel and restaurant operators public information materials – such as posters – on the COVID-19 preventive measures. Details on the latest measures applicable to visitors to Macao were also made available to hotels and travel agencies.
Prior to the Lunar New Year holiday period, MGTO officials met representatives of the tourism trade, including those in either the travel agency or hospitality segments, via two seminars hosted in collaboration with the Macao Health Bureau. The seminars were designed to help keep the tourism industry abreast of developments regarding the COVID-19 episode, to explain the Macao SAR Government’s response to the outbreak, and to urge the tourism trade to increase its disease-prevention and control efforts.