Posted on: April 20, 2022, 10:10h.
Last updated on: April 20, 2022, 01:33h.
Macau is extending the validity of negative COVID-19 tests required for entry for certain travelers arriving at the casino enclave’s borders. The move comes just in time for one of China’s seven annual public holidays.
Today, Macau’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center announced that negative tests for people arriving from neighboring Zhuhai have been extended from 24 hours to 48 hours before arrival. That means a Zhuhai resident can test negative within two days of arriving in Macau.
The relaxing of the entry restriction comes just a week and a half before the People’s Republic’s annual May 1 Labor Day celebration. The public holiday affords most workers three paid days off.
Macau, one of two Special Administrative Regions (SAR) in China, is traditionally a popular holiday destination for Labor Day vacationers. The casino town’s resort hotel rooms are usually booked solid, but the ongoing pandemic will greatly subdue the 2022 festivities. However, the extended negative test validity time should help soften the blow.
Mainland China is responsible for most visitors to Macau each year.
In pre-pandemic 2019, the mainland accounted for almost 71% of the approximately 39.4 million people who visited Macau. The mainland accounted for 81% of Macau’s 7.7 million visitors last year, as most non-essential international travel remained prohibited.
Zhuhai, a major city in the Guangdong Province, is home to more than 2.4 million people. Many of those residents who are given time off around the May 1 holiday can now more easily visit Macau.
Macau shortened the validity of negative tests from 48 hours to 24 hours in mid-March after a small outbreak of new cases was detected in Guangdong city. But those cases have since been resolved, which has prompted Macau to revert to 48 hours for tests.
Though Macau is easing its testing rules for Zhuhai, SAR health officials say visitors should continue to practice pandemic safety measures, such as social distancing and wearing face masks.
Cross-border travelers should follow the principle of point-to-point travel, neither visit crowded places nor participate in gathering activities,” the Macau Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center said.
Nonresidents who arrive at Macau’s gates who have not been tested will be turned away. Macau residents will be able to immediately undergo a rapid on-site test for entry.
Gaming Continues Slide
Macau’s six casino operators continue to face dire market conditions. Gross gaming revenue in the first quarter of 2022 totaled $1.03 billion — 89% below the $9.4 billion that the casinos won in the first three months of 2019.
Financial services firm Bernstein issued a note today advising that it expects Macau GGR in April to be 68% lower than April 2021. The brokerage added that while the testing easing for Zhuhai is welcomed the news, it will have little impact on April casino revenue.
“Despite a slight rebound in visitation and relaxation of border policy, there remains uncertainty, as some Guangdong cities, including Guangzhou and Shenzhen, are still reporting local cases,” said Bernstein Asian gaming analyst Vitaly Umansky. “Any COVID outbreaks in Zhuhai and/or Macau could force the border to close (or further restrict passage) as well.”