China Urges Mainlanders to Avoid Macau During Upcoming Public Holidays

China is telling its people to avoid nonessential travel during this weekend’s Mid-Autumn Festival and the Golden Week holiday set for October 1-7.

Mid-Autumn Festival decorations go up in front of the Ruins of St. Paul’s Church in Macau in August 2022. China is telling its mainland residents to avoid traveling to the casino region for the September 10-12 festival, as well as Golden Week next month. (Image: China Daily)

Despite “zero-COVID” being lambasted by many world powers, the People’s Republic continues to maintain the pandemic policy that requires strict action in response to new outbreaks. Even in the event of a small cluster of new COVID-19 infections, China’s “zero-COVID” arrangement initiates protocols that greatly limit normal life.

Most consequential in the pandemic containment program is that provinces and cities go on near-lockdowns where travel is strongly discouraged. Government officials are seeing that the order is followed by implementing unavoidable COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements on those who try to travel cross-border into Macau, the lone hub in China where casino gambling is permitted.

Stay Safe, Stay Home

China’s National Health Commission said this week that people should not venture outside of their home city and province during this weekend’s Mid-Autumn Festival and October’s Golden Week. The announcement comes in response to new COVID outbreaks detected in multiple parts of the country.

With outbreaks of the pandemic in many parts of the country, people are urged to stay put for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival and Golden Week holidays,” a release from China’s National Administration of Disease Control and Prevention said.

To assure that travel is minimal, Chinese citizens seeking to travel by air, rail, ferry, or bus will need to present a negative nucleic acid test conducted within the past 48 hours of departure. Upon arrival at their destination, state health officials say travelers will need to adhere to all local requirements such as mandatory quarantines and medical observation.

In Macau, travelers will need to undergo an on-site rapid test upon arrival. If the person is negative, they will then need to undergo a seven-day medical observation beginning the day after their arrival. If positive at the entry point, Macau guests will be forced into 10-day isolation. After a week of quarantine, negative individuals are cleared to enter the public.

Macau’s Government Tourism Office adds that travelers should make sure that their passports are valid for a stay that could linger longer than their original plans should they test positive during their trip.

China’s Golden Week is traditionally one of the busiest travel periods of the year in the world’s most populated country. In 2019, nearly one million people traveled to Macau during the seven-day public holiday. During last year’s weeklong holiday, which was nearly nonexistent because of pandemic outbreaks and “zero-COVID,” less than 9,000 travelers made their way into the casino enclave.

Further Setback

Macau casinos were hoping the second half of 2022 would be the start of a major recovery of their gaming operations. But with no end in sight to China’s restrictive pandemic response, gaming analysts believe the local industry will continue to labor.

“Macau’s gaming recovery is still uncertain and largely dependent on whether China can quickly contain the regional COVID outbreaks and resume travel,” a note from Sanford C. Bernstein read this week.

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