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Hong Kong travel setback to hurt Macao travel easing

06/03/2020| 6:18:18 PM|

This is a disappointment for those waiting for a ‘Greater Bay Area travel bubble’ to kick in this month.

The Tuesday news that Hong Kong is extending to July 7 its deadline for the end of a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals from Macao, mainland China and Taiwan is a “disappointment” for Macao and could set back by at least a month the latter’s efforts to get its tourism industry going again, said JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd in a note. The decision by the Hong Kong government amid new outbreaks of Covid-19 in that city.

“This is a disappointment for those waiting for a ‘Greater Bay Area travel bubble’ to kick in this month, including us,” wrote on Tuesday analysts DS Kim, Derek Choi and Jeremy An. They were referring latterly to a potential scheme to relax travel movement between the mainland’s Guangdong province,  Hong Kong and Macao.

“There is still a (very) small chance that Macao and Guangdong could go ahead first to open up borders with certain safeguarding measures (e.g., negative test results for Covid-19), but it’s probably reasonable to think a travel bubble will not happen until 7 July, as the Chinese government might prefer not to treat two SARs differently, in our view,” added the JP Morgan team.

The institution added: “We do think Macao is suffering ‘collateral damage,’ as it has been Covid-19 -free for 55 days.”

Macao has not had a Covid-19 case since early April. All 45 confirmed patients have been released from hospital care, and the city recorded no death from the disease.

Nonetheless travel between Macao and Hong Kong is still subject ordinarily to a 14-day quarantine period in each direction. Mainlanders entering Macao have no quarantine restrictions, but those wishing to return to the mainland after a visit to Macao are currently subject to a 14-day quarantine requirement.

There are also general restrictions in the issuance of visas by the Chinese authorities for mainlanders to travel to Macao and Hong Kong. Those that are permitted by mainland authorities to visit Macao must also be tested for Covid-19 before they can gain entry to the city.

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TAGS: Greater Bay Area | travel bubble
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