Macau fears HK outbreak will delay its recovery

2020-07-28 02:09     Comment:0

Macau has seen 120 days without new local COVID-19 infections, but despite that, observers say recovery is still a long way away as the number of tourists stays low amid tight border controls.

And now, Macau residents say that Hong Kong’s latest outbreak is adding to their worries.

A shop owner, surnamed Lai, runs a souvenir shop near the Ruins of St Paul’s. She told RTHK recently that although the novel coronavirus outbreak has been brought under control in Macau, business hasn’t improved yet.

“There are a few customers, it’s better than nothing,” she said. But Lai said she’s very worried about what’s happening in Hong Kong.

“Of course I’m worried. I’m very worried because we are so close to each other. We must not allow people from Hong Kong to come. Or they must be put under quarantine, 14 days is not enough. At least 21 days, I’d say.

“I would rather earn less. Health always comes first. If anything goes wrong with your health, what good does money do? Nothing,” she said.

Macau has relaxed border control measures with the mainland, allowing people who test negative under the health code system to travel between the two sides without a quarantine requirement. But a taxi driver said it didn’t help his sector.

“The border relaxation is only for residents, but Macau people don’t take the taxi, they mostly travel by bus. So if we don’t have tourists, taxi drivers’ business will stay the same,” he said.

The cabbie said he was worried that if Hong Kong cannot bring the outbreak under control, the mainland authorities will delay the relaxation of border controls in the area, thus affecting Macau’s recovery.

But the president of Macau’s Travel Industry Council, Andy Wu Keng Kuong, said as the city has the capacity to conduct 11,000 COVID-19 tests a day, the current outbreak in Hong Kong would not spill over the border.

But he said a delay in the recovery of the tourism sector would affect both Hong Kong and Macau.


Visibly fewer tourists walk near the Ruins of St. Paul’s landmark last week than before the COVID-19 crisis hit Macau early this year. Photo: Maria Cheang Ut Meng

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