Macau Lifts International Travel Restrictions, Quarantine Remains

Macau finally has some good news to announce. International borders in the Special Administrative Region will be reopened starting on Thursday. This comes after almost two full years of shuttered borders which began in early 2020, blocking the outside world from accessing Macau.

Macau Tries to Live with Covid-19

A total of 41 country non-residents will be welcomed back, including to casino gaming floors in the SAR, although they will all have to undergo a seven-day quarantine which is non-optional as of right now. The news was confirmed by Macau chief executive Ho Iat Seng who issued Executive Order No. 166/2022 which now allows visitors from whitelisted jurisdictions to come.

South Korea, Japan, and the United States are all on the list. Arrivals will have to also undergo a COVID-19 test while in isolation during the seven-day period. Border patrol will also have to see proof of booking for a hotel where the isolation and quarantine will take place. Lifting the restrictions for international travel, non-ideal as it is, is likely to incentivize overseas travelers to some extent.

While casinos cannot expect a huge upsurge in visitors, they can definitely hope for incremental improvements over the next months. Macau is at the forefront of what could be a shift from China’s harmful zero-COVID-19 policy, with the quarantine period potentially lifted in the foreseeable future or reduced.

International travel back to Macau is important as well. As mentioned before, casinos and local businesses need overseas travelers – and specifically non-Chinese. Beijing has been very particular about casinos attracting foreign visitors who can spend their money on gaming floors.

But before any meaningful recovery may begin, there will have to be a surge in visitation to Macau. Based on the annual available data, visitors in Macau in 2019 reached 39.4 million people. For the half year in 2022, there have been hardly 3.5 million visitors. Macau is building itself as a fortress against COVID, though, with vaccination efforts ongoing and Beijing trying to get more people to undergo vaccination.

Vaccines will also be available to foreign travelers, but they will have to pay up $125 to have the jab on-site in Macau.

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