Despite being neighbors, Hong Kong and Macau are being forced to approach the ongoing COVID-19 situation very differently in some respects. Hong Kong has been able to reduce the number of positive coronavirus cases recently, which is facilitating its ability to introduce more lenient travel policies with some other areas. However, Macau is finding itself in a tougher situation, and is cracking down on tourism with new quarantine measures.
Hong Kong is emerging from a third outbreak of COVID-19 cases from this past July that has allowed it to record no new locally-born cases in the past several days. As a result, it has begun to relax some of the policies related to consumer activity and is ready to test a travel bubble with Singapore. The idea of allowing almost free travel between the two had already been discussed, but was never implemented due to the continued coronavirus threat. Now, according to Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam, “Implementing the air travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore within the next month is one of our current targets.”
The city also expects to eliminate the quarantine requirements for Hong Kong residents who are returning from mainland China. There is currently a two-week quarantine on visitors coming from the mainland, as well as from Macau, but Hong Kong residents could be given a pass starting sometime next month. There will be limitations in place at first, however, as only the Shenzhen Bay Port and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge borders are currently open.
China has recently seen a new outbreak of coronavirus cases, with over 100 new positive tests recorded in the mainland city of Kashgar. This has forced Macau to issue a quarantine order for anyone arriving to the city who has visited Kashgar, with a two-week quarantine now being required. The mainland city, located in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, has reportedly identified 164 asymptomatic cases since last Saturday after having conducted over four million tests.
Macau has now gone 212 days without any new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases and it wants to keep the trend going. Since the Kashgar outbreak was reported, the city identified 15 arrivals and wanted to put them all under quarantine; however, 14 had already returned to China. Still, Macau health officials don’t anticipate a new outbreak hitting the city.
Macau continues to keep its remaining quarantine procedures in place, and doesn’t foresee any changes in the immediate future. Currently, those arriving must show a negative COVID-19 test administered within seven days prior to the trip, and Macau won’t be pushing it out to 14 days as some had hoped. In addition, there won’t be any changes made to facilitate the creation of travel bubbles with countries with low percentages of coronavirus cases until things get better.