Macau begins 3rd mass testing round as Covid derails Golden Week

Macau mass testing

Macau is embarking on a third round of mass testing of its residents after discovering the 72nd case of Covid in a Chinese construction worker, who stayed in various city hotels, including the Grand Emperor. 

Plans to lift travel restrictions with Zhuhai on Mainland China have been canceled and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period has been put in place for anyone entering from Macau.

The Macau government has also set up further restrictions within the Special Administrative Region, including three red zones, which impose the highest level of security, with no one permitted to leave the area.

One of the red zones incorporates the Grand Emperor Hotel, which has a casino and was another of the hotels the Chinese worker stayed in. The other red zone encompasses the Victoria Hotel. 

The latest restrictions have dashed any lingering hopes that Golden Week could be salvaged. On late Monday night, another two cases were identified. These are understood to be co-workers of the 72nd case.

“Golden Week is likely to be completely derailed (with already very low expectations) after Zhuhai, Guangdong (the city with land crossings into Macau) announced last night that travelers coming in will continue to be subjected to 14 days quarantine from Oct 1,” Bernstein wrote in a recent note. “ There is no timing for an eventual lifting quarantine requirement. Key near-term issue will be how long the quarantine requirement will be in place.”

Guangdong is the key feeder market for Macau. 

Tourism authorities have been marketing Macau’s non-gaming attractions on Mainland China in an attempt to boost visitation over the Golden Week holiday, which began on Oct. 1st. It was the last major holiday for Chinese travellers this year.

The government had been expecting about 35,000 daily arrivals, with hotels at about 80 percent occupancy. 

Last week, the government conceded it would need to revise down its budget forecasts due to low gaming revenue and warned greater border opening won’t be possible at current low vaccination rates.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng gave no further details on what the expectations are now for this year. The current estimate is for tax revenue of MOP130 billion ($16.2 billion), half of what it was in 2020. He said so far government spending has been MOP100 billion.