DestinationsIn a time where countries are scrutinised over their handling of Covid-19, a few governments have stood out for their clear calls-to-actions and swift measures to assist affected economies and communities – such as Macau

Macau: A firm handle over Covid-19, economy and global travel community

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A destination’s public health and safety record is a key consideration for travellers, and Macau has consistently shown its strength in this aspect, during this time of global pressures. CREDIT: Macao Government Tourism Office USA
A destination’s public health and safety record is a key consideration for travellers, and Macau has consistently shown its strength in this aspect, during this time of global pressures. CREDIT: Macao Government Tourism Office USA

Using lessons learned from the 2003 SARS experience, Macau is one destination that quickly established a good government-to-public communications channel, solid health framework, and systems to enable a rapid reaction to the still evolving Covid-19 crisis.

Placing its people’s health and life as top priority, the Macao SAR Government has continued to press in on rolling out measures designed to stop the outbreak from spreading – whether it’s city-wide sanitary measures, monetary support to affected sectors, or temporary closures of schools and attractions. The whole time, Macau’s leaders exercised full transparency in its actions, lending confidence not just to her citizens, but the worldwide travel community as well.


1. Timely control measures 

When news of the Covid-19 first emerged in January, the Macau government swiftly implemented various measures to contain the virus’ spread. CREDIT: Macau Daily Times
When news of the Covid-19 first emerged in January, the Macau government swiftly implemented various measures to contain the virus’ spread. CREDIT: Macau Daily Times

One of the key things travellers look for, is a destination’s public health and safety record.

For instance, when news of the Covid-19 emerged in January, the Macao SAR Government swiftly implemented various measures to contain the virus’ spread, also organising daily briefings to provide updates up to this day.

A raft of control measures were also announced, including restrictions on travel to and from China’s Hubei province, and suspending Macau’s self-service immigration clearance system for non-Macau residents at air, sea and land crossings into Macau, with tourists directed to manned checkpoints.

On March 25, the government again stepped up safety measures – all foreign nationals who have visited any overseas countries within the last 14 days will be denied entry into Macau.

For those who do enter Macau, a two-week quarantine is imposed for the majority of arrivals. A tourism fund has also been set aside to rent quarantine hotels; and to facilitate special transport between Hong Kong and Macau, as well as between ports to medical examination centres.


2. Lending tourism a helping hand

With tourism as one of its key pillars, the government has rolled out a series of measures to help revitalise Macau’s virus-hit economy. CREDIT: Macao Government Tourism Office USA
With tourism as one of its key pillars, the government has rolled out a series of measures to help revitalise Macau’s virus-hit economy. CREDIT: Macao Government Tourism Office USA

With tourism as one of its key pillars, the government quickly made it their responsibility to help revitalise Macau’s virus-hit economy. Plans rolled out include a series of tax-relief measures to residents and businesses – such as a six-month waiver on the five percent tourist tax paid by restaurants, hotels, bars and gyms, as well as a rebate on personal income tax paid by residents for 2018.

On April 8, a $10 billion pataca economic relief fund was also announced to support SMEs – this is on top of a previous $30 billion worth of measures rolled out.

The government’s regeneration strategy also included a pledge to invest in the city’s infrastructure, with vocational training schemes intended to produce more local electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, plasterers, ironworkers and refrigeration and air conditioning technicians.


3. Balancing economy and safety

Macau has begun progressively opening up accommodations, casino, parks, trails and leisure areas.  CREDIT: Macao Government Tourism Office USA
Macau has begun progressively opening up accommodations, casino, parks, trails and leisure areas. CREDIT: Macao Government Tourism Office USA

With health measures and social distancing vigilance diligently practiced from government to grassroots level, Macau’s business owners and operators are still opening shop, making it possible to “strike a balance between anti-pandemic [measures] and economic performance,” explains Leong Iek Hou, coordinator at the Health Bureau's (SSM) Center.

For instance, accommodation providers ranging from hotels to budget stays, as well as nearly all casinos have since received clearance to resume operations. In addition, the government has reaffirmed the public that all casino grounds have gone through a cleansing and sanitation process supervised by the Health Bureau and the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. 

To show just how closely Macau watches the evolving situation, an advisory was also specially crafted for the tourism, hotels and gaming industry.

As for leisure facilities, the following reopened to public since March 2: cinemas, indoor playgrounds, education centres, internet cafes, billiard spots, bowling alleys, fitness centres, spa and beauty salons, karaoke bars and clubs.

Safety remains a top priority. After reopening, mandatory measures include employees and customers wearing masks at all times; people with fever or cough are barred from these opened venues; while vendors are recommended to reduce capacity of venues to half, especially at places with long durations such as at a movie. To further safeguard public health, Health Bureau officials regularly inspect these establishments’ adherence to preventive measures against infections.

With the domestic situation firmly in control, Macau continues to join the global community in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, one step at a time.

For ongoing updates on how you can regroup clients towards Macau, visit www.macaotourism.gov.mo.

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This article is brought to you by Macao Government Tourism Office.

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