It’s a small step, but another in the direction towards normalizing life in Macau, with authorities announcing there is no longer need for a certificate showing a negative nucleic acid test to enter the casinos.
The requirement had been in place since last July and was another layer of red tape for anyone wishing to access Macau’s gaming floors.
The latest change really only has an impact on locals since anyone coming in from China will still be required to have a negative certificate within the past seven days, but still it’s another vote of confidence that the situation is stabilising.
Announcing the easing, the Macau government said the decision to cancel the Covid-19 test certificate was due to the fact that the epidemic risk in China had come down significantly since mid-February.
There are no areas in mainland China of medium- or high-incidence of Covid-19 infection for at least 10 consecutive days, nor local transmission for 24 consecutive days.
“With the weather getting warmer around the country, it was expected the outlook would further stabilise in terms of epidemic-related developments,” the government announcement said.
The Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre also pointed to the steps already being closely adhered to by casinos, such as checks at entry points, to ensure patrons had current Macao Health Code clearance; a requirement that each patron and each casino-floor employee wear a protective face mask; the use of partitions to keep a distance between patrons at gaming tables; and the practising of social distancing.
Remaining restrictions on travel between Mainland China and Macau were lifted late last month, triggering a significant rally in casino operator stocks on optimism for recovery. Still, there has been no news on when individual visa schemes will be re-introduced, which is being seen as one of the key catalysts for growth.
Visitors currently need to apply in person, which is causing delays and bottlenecks and acting as a deterrent to travel, analysts said.
Gross gambling revenue in Macau jumped 135.6 percent in February from the same month last year, when the casinos were closed for 15 days at the height of the pandemic. Still the revenue figure slipped back from January due to the new Covid clusters in China.
Macau also now has its vaccination program under way after receiving the first batch of 100,000 Sinopharm doses on Feb. 6th.
Macau has sourced in total three types of COVID-19 vaccine, namely inactivated vaccine produced by Sinopharm; ‘mRNA-based’ vaccine by BioNTech and its partner in China, Fosun Pharma; and a form of ‘replication-defective adenovirus vector vaccine’ developed by AstraZeneca.
As of 6pm on Sunday, a total of 14,426 people had received a first jab of the Sinopharm vaccine. As of that time, an additional 32,050 people had been able to confirm an appointment for initial vaccination.