Macao to set up special ferry link with Hong Kong airport
Addressing on Thursday press conference about Macao’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U announced that Macao residents who need to cross the Macao-Zhuhai border for official purposes, business activities or other urgent or special reasons can now apply to the Macao government for exemption from Guangdong’s current 14-day quarantine requirement.
She also said that the quarantine exemption is valid for seven days each time.
Ao Ieong also announced that the Macao government will provide a special ferry link between next Wednesday and July 16 for Macao residents arriving at Hong Kong’s airport from overseas to return to Macao. The special ferry link will also be available to foreign nationals who have been stranded in Macao due to the COVID-19 pandemic so that they can travel to Hong Kong’s airport to return to their home countries.
There will be two ferry trips from Hong Kong’s airport to the Taipa Ferry Terminal in Pac On per day during the one-month period and vice versa. Each passenger will have to pay HK$270 (to Macao) or MOP 270 (to Hong Kong’s airport) for a one-way ticket.
‘Basic look-after’ service
The policy secretary also announced that parents can apply for their young children to be looked after at their respective day nurseries – which have been closed since early this year when the COVID-19 epidemic emerged in Macao – if there is no one at home who can look after them while the parents are working. The measure covers 40 government-subsidised day nurseries, she said, adding that the parents can apply to their respective day nurseries from today. The “basic look-after” service will start on June 22 at 35 of the 40 day nurseries first, while the remaining five will start the service later, she said.
Ao Ieong said that due to the joint effort by residents, Macao has not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for 63 consecutive days – and no “cases related to imported cases” for 74 consecutive days. She pointed out that Macao has been spared a COVID-19 community transmission, except for two “cases related to imported cases” among Macao’s total of 45 COVID-19 cases, adding that therefore the local government has concluded that a COVID-19 epidemic “can be contained” in Macao, and decided to roll out the three new measures, with the first and second measures carried out in collaboration with the Zhuhai and Hong Kong governments respectively.
All travellers arriving in Guangdong from overseas as well as Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan have had to undergo 14 days of “concentrated” quarantine there since March 27. Certain groups of Macao-Zhuhai cross-border commuters are currently exempted from the 14-day quarantine measure carried out by the Zhuhai government, such as:
Ao Ieong said during Wednesday’s press conference that the local government is aware that some Macao residents without a Zhuhai residence permit may also have a need to go to Guangdong. She said that after intensive discussions between the Macao government and its Guangdong and Zhuhai counterparts, the Zhuhai government has now decided to exempt Macao residents from the 14-day quarantine measure who need to visit Guangdong for official purposes, business activities, or other urgent or special reasons.
Ao Ieong said that Macao residents eligible for the new exemption measure can apply online from today for the Health Bureau’s (SSM) new system for the new measure. Following an official assessment, each applicant will receive am SMS telling them whether their application has been approved, she said.
The policy secretary underlined that the local government is still discussing with its Zhuhai counterpart some details on how to implement the new exemption measure, adding that the local government has decided to launch today the online application first, before announcing further details about the new exemption measure during tomorrow’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre press conference.
No travel allowed beyond Guangdong
According to Ao Ieong, those who apply to enter Zhuhai under the new exemption measure will have to promise that they will not leave Guangdong province and travel to other provinces in the mainland.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Health Bureau Director Lei Chin Ion announced details of how to fill in the application on a website of the bureau (https://app.ssm.gov.mo/IMM) for the Zhuhai government’s new exemption measure. Eligible Macao residents will have to fill in the online application, which runs from 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. daily, five days prior to their intended entry into Zhuhai, Lei said.
According to Lei, the applications will be first assessed by a working group set up by the local government consisting of officials from the relevant public entities. The working group will pass the list of cases that it has approved to the Public Security Police (PSP) – which runs Macao’s immigration service – which will then pass the list to the Zhuhai authorities who have the final say on whether to approve the cases for the quarantine exemption, Lei said.
According to Lei, Macao residents whose application for the quarantine exemption have been approved will have to undergo a nucleic acid test (NAT) – which has a validity of seven days – two days prior to their intended entry into Zhuhai. The exemption each time is valid for seven days – i.e. they can cross the Macao-Zhuhai border an unlimited number of times within seven days during the exemption period. The number of places per day for the online application for the exemption will be limited, Lei underlined.
According to Lei, those who want to apply for the quarantine exemption again after using their seven-day exemption the first time can only make the application on the website between 6 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. daily.
Lei noted that all those who have previously been granted exemption by the Zhuhai government from the 14-day quarantine measure will not need to apply again for the Health Bureau’s new system.
Meanwhile, Ao Ieong said that the special ferry link measure aimed to help the “many” Macao residents and students enrolled overseas to return to Macao via Hong Kong airport, and help foreign nationals who have been stranded in Macao due to the COVID-19 pandemic “which has lasted several months”, adding that the measure can get off the ground thanks to the Hong Kong government’s support and assistance.
During the press conference, Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes announced details of the special ferry link carried out in collaboration with the Hong Kong government.
According to Senna Fernandes, the special ferry link will be run by Shun Tak China Travel Ship Management Limited (TurboJet) and Cotai Ferry Company Limited (Cotai Water Jet).
Senna Fernandes said the two trips per day returning to Pac On will depart from Hong Kong’s airport at 2 p.m. and 11 p.m., while the two daily trips travelling to Hong Kong’s airport will depart at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.
According to Senna Fernandes, Macao residents who want to use the special ferry link to return to Macao will have to register on a website (https://aeees.dses.gov.mo/HKMAC/) for the measure. They can start to register from tomorrow, and they have to complete the registration 48 hours before their flight’s arrival time at Hong Kong’s airport.
Macao residents who have returned to Macao from overseas using the special ferry service will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine and medical observation at one of the government’s “quarantine hotels”.
According to Senna Fernandes, those who want to travel to Hong Kong’s airport – with a valid air ticket – using the special ferry link can buy their ferry ticket at the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal or the Venetian resort in Cotai.
Those using the special ferry link to the Hong Kong airport will not need to undergo Hong Kong’s 14-day mandatory quarantine, considering that they will arrive at the airport’s SkyPier, which is a restricted area.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Government Information Bureau (GCS)