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Govt eases minimum required No. of banquet guests for NATs to 400

2022-06-15 03:40     BY Tony Wong    Comment:1

The government has relaxed the minimum number of guests attending banquets and other lunch and dinner gatherings that require all staff and guests to be compulsorily tested for COVID-19 from 200 to 400.

The Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre announced the relaxation in a statement yesterday.

The Health Bureau (SSM) has amended its guidelines on the organisation of banquets, which have been published on its COVID-19 website.

According to the new version of the guidelines, all those attending or working for banquets and other lunch and dinner gatherings with over 400 guests organised by public entities, private organisations and community associations must present a nucleic acid test (NAT) certificate confirming a negative COVID-19 result, regardless of whether they have been fully inoculated against the novel coronavirus or not.

Normally those vaccinated against COVID-19 require two jabs to develop basic full immunity, i.e., if they receive a two-dose vaccine.

Since late March this year, the minimum number of guests attending banquets requiring mandatory nucleic acid tests for all staff and participants had stood at 200.

Yesterday’s statement did not mention why the Health Bureau has decided to ease the minimum number from 200 to 400.

Previously, i.e., before late March this year, those attending banquets with over 400 guests had to present an NAT certificate confirming a negative COVID-19 result, or display a certificate confirming that they had been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. The measure before late March this year meant that those who had been fully vaccinated did not need to be tested for COVID-19 before attending a banquet.


Different NAT rules

According to the latest version of the guidelines, i.e., version 5.0, fully-vaccinated participants and staff members of banquets with over 400 guests must present an NAT certificate confirming a negative COVID-19 result valid for seven days, provided that the negative COVID-19 NAT result for those commuting between Macau and Zhuhai is valid for seven days. However, participants and staff members who have not been fully inoculated must present a negative COVID-19 result valid for just 48 hours.

In case the negative COVID-19 NAT result for those commuting between Macau and Zhuhai is valid for just 48 hours or even shorter, according to the new version of the guidelines, fully-vaccinated participants and staff members of banquets with over 400 guests must hold a negative COVID-19 result valid for 48 hours, while those who have not been fully inoculated must show a negative COVID-19 result valid for just 24 hours.

Currently, the negative COVID-19 NAT result for those commuting between the two cities is valid for seven days.

In addition, according to the new version of the guidelines, the organisers of banquets with fewer than 400 guests should “encourage” participants and staff members to test themselves for COVID-19 with a rapid antigen test kit shortly before attending or working at the banquets. Alternatively, the organisers can decide themselves whether to require participants and staff members to present an NAT certificate confirming a negative COVID-19 result after assessing the risk of the possible COVID-19 spread.

The guidelines also advise all those who have not yet received their COVID-19 booster jab not to attend banquets. 


This undated file photo shows a local Chinese restaurant. Photo courtesy of TDM


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