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Hong Kong extends to Sept 7 quarantine rule for Macau, mainland

The Hong Kong government has extended to September 7 its deadline for the end of a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals from Macau, mainland China and Taiwan. The previous deadline for expiry of such a quarantine rule was August 7.

The fresh extension of the protocol comes amid a spike in local Covid-19 infections, which prompted the Hong Kong authorities to extend a number of preventive measures to contain the further spread of the pandemic.

Hong Kong (pictured) recorded 113 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, the highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak, and the local government ramped up prevention measures to tackle the escalating health crisis.

Mandatory mask-wearing will be extended to all indoor public places from Thursday (July 23), and residents returning from countries listed as “high-risk”, will be required to quarantine in hotels rather than at home. Starting next week, people travelling from “high-risk countries” will also have to present a negative test result for Covid-19 before boarding flights back to Hong Kong.

A number of business categories – including bars, amusement centres and fitness centres – have again been ordered to suspend temporarily operations.

Since July 6, there have been 721 local infections, and the sources of 330 of them are yet to be traced, according to the South China Morning Post newspaper. Hong Kong had recorded an aggregate of 2,131 Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday, with 14 related deaths.

Since July 13, all people travelling from Hong Kong to Macau via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge must hold a certificate proving they have tested negative for Covid-19 infection. Upon arriving in Macau, any such travellers are still required to undergo a 14-day quarantine arrangement in a designated hotel in Macau.

Wilfred Wong Ying Wai, president of Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd, said in recent comments to a Hong Kong-based newspaper that the spike in cases of Covid-19 in that city would need to be weighed as a factor when judging how quickly Hong Kong can participate in a travel bubble system with Macau and places in mainland China.

Things also depended on how smoothly runs the quarantine-free arrangement with effect from July 15 for travel from Macau to Guangdong, he added.

Hong Kongers accounted for just over 7.35 million trips – or about 18.7 percent – of Macau’s 2019 tally of more than 39 million arrivals. Since the advent of the Covid-19 crisis, visitor numbers from there and from mainland China – Macau’s main supply market for tourists – have declined sharply.