Low vaccination rate does not allow a relaxation of visa policies on the continent for travel in SAR – CE

Director-General Ho Iat Seng said today (Wednesday) that the low vaccination rate in the SAR has not allowed authorities to negotiate resumption of tourist group visas or easier individual visa procedures with local authorities. mainland authorities.

Although the individual visa regime that allows visitors from the mainland to come to Macau resumed in stages from August 2020, group visas for package tours to the mainland or online applications for IVS no. ‘have not yet resumed, a step long considered crucial for the recovery of local tourism and the gambling economy.

“With such a low vaccination rate, how can I negotiate with the central government to restore package travel? […] Many people complain that the economy is not doing well, but every sector of society must make an effort to strengthen collective immunity. I can’t just go to the central government with a 50 or 60 percent vaccination rate, ”Ho said at a special press conference today.

According to the most recent update, a total of 360,658 people in Macau were vaccinated with at least one dose of the Sinopharm or BioNTech vaccines, or about half of the local population, but only 308,922 received the required two doses.

As the second city-wide mass test was finalized following a series of cases linked to security guards at the Golden Crown and Treasure quarantine hotels, another national golden week in October lackluster is expected as travel restrictions have been imposed again.

The cases led Zhuhai authorities to impose a 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the city from Macau, a measure that is expected to be lifted after midnight on September 30 after negotiations with the Chinese city authorities.

“The measure was applied to Zhuhai, which hosts its biennial China International Aviation & Aerospace exhibition, the largest air show in mainland China.

The six-day event, which showcases Chinese aviation and space technologies, has been postponed from its original November 2020 date due to COVID.

“We hope that it will be maintained until but we don’t know what can happen until then,” Ho noted, without confirming whether, after September 30, the previous validity of the 7-day nucleic acid test for border crossings will be reinstated or a shorter period will be imposed.

Still, Ho admitted that while the customs clearance arrangements would be convenient for local residents and foreign employees living in Zhuhai, it would no longer help Macau’s economy during Golden Week since many mainland tourists have already canceled their tickets. plan to come to the city during the holiday period.

The head of government said that for several months, local tourism authorities have tried to promote the city on the mainland as a safe tourist destination, but recent cases and low vaccination rates have undermined such efforts.

“The cases arrived just before October 1 and will have a big impact on Golden Week, it is very undesirable not only because of the timing, it will have a big impact on the economy like in August,” Ho warned.

Visits from September 19 to 25 averaged 48,500, but fell to 3,000 after the first restrictions on movement at the border were imposed.

Asked whether to impose more aggressive measures to increase the local vaccination rate and avoid further strict border closures, Ho again issued numerous calls for residents to get the vaccine, but stressed the need to balance incentive or sanction measures to increase the vaccination rate.

“Some countries in Europe have tried to move forward with strict measures such as banning entry to restaurants if they are not vaccinated, but such measures have also generated protests or social instability. We need to balance our measures. Preventing unvaccinated people from entering restaurants or work can have a big impact on society, ”Ho added.

Ho also noted that authorities have already tried to make the vaccination process more convenient by removing the need to make an appointment.

The EC also added that following the suggestions of the delegation of the National Health Commission which recently visited the city, some public officials who regularly contact people will be forced to take a Covid-19 test every seven. days if they are not vaccinated.

“Some people just don’t want to be vaccinated. I can’t force them to do it, so asking for the test might be one way. In Hong Kong, they imposed similar measures, ”he noted.

Authorities have also considered the possibility of granting days off to public officials who are vaccinated, however, Ho stressed the “moral scruples” of compensating those who had so far refused to perform this public office.

“What lesson do we teach future generations? It’s like a school class, you can reward students who behave or behave badly “

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