Covid-19 | New guidelines for banquets will not apply to private events

The new guidelines governing group catering activities released yesterday by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center have no jurisdiction over privately held banquets, such as wedding receptions or birthday dinners, Dr. Alvis Lo of the center clarified at yesterday’s regular press briefing.
He stressed that the guidelines were made to set rules for celebrations during this year’s National Day period, starting October 1, as well as possible entries by mainland tourists amid the resumption of travel endorsements to Macau on September 23.
On the other hand, the medical doctor has also seen more local residents circulating across the mainland. “Human mobility, of course, carries risks,” Lo explained.
The new guidelines mainly govern receptions organized by groups, organizations or associations, especially those held during the National Day period, indoors and with an attendance of over 400 people. In addition, the attendees at such events will be given a period of longer than one hour during which they will not have to properly wear a facemask.
Despite the allowance, all attendees should wear facemasks when not eating meals.
Participants at such events should present a negative Covid-19 nucleic acid test result obtained within the preceding seven days upon entry to the event venue. Their body temperature will also be taken and Macau health code checked upon entry. Participants with abnormal body temperatures or respiratory symptoms should not be allowed to enter.
The guidelines also require event hosts to offer alcohol rub at the entrance. Each table at a reception should be placed at least one meter apart from the next. Attendees at each table should not toast with those seated at another table.
Stipulations regarding event services have also been set forth. Condiments, utensils and straws should not be liberally placed on the table for guests’ use. Refreshments offered at a buffet event should be well covered.
Previously, the health authority expressly mentioned that guidelines issued by the Novel Coronavirus Center have legal authority. Violators may be subject to criminal prosecution.
When he was asked whether the new guidelines would apply to private banquets, the medical doctor admitted that coverage would be difficult.
“It is difficult for us to ban banquets,” Lo said. “It is also difficult for us to require people to keep their attendance below 400.”
But the medical doctor is confident in the sensibility of local residents. He believes that local people will follow the guidelines, even if they are not mandatory.
He also explained that some people may have planned their wedding banquets one year prior to the actual wedding date.
Despite saying that the guidelines should be issued in advance, the health authority pointed out it was too early to say whether the new guidelines would apply to this year’s Macau Food Festival, which will be held in November alongside the Macau Grand Prix.
In addition, a new Covid-19 specimen collection and testing venue has been established at the Macau University of Science and Technology. Although the new testing site will start operating on Monday, bookings will open from today. Residents interested in being tested at the new venue will see the option on the centralized booking system.
Each test costs MOP120, identical to those taken at other local venues. Lo explained that since the venue is not a government-commissioned test venue, first-time complimentary tests will not be available at this venue.
During its preliminary phase, the university testing venue will have a daily quota of 500 tests.

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