Editorial | No room to get

Paulo Coutinho

Residents who went abroad – mostly to visit their family in their countries of origin for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations – and booked their flights back to Macau in the coming two weeks received the news with a shock. I’m talking about, you guessed it, the halting of flights to Macau from any country in the world. I mean originating from all other countries in the world, needless to say, because this tiny-shiny piece of land is China.

I was shocked too – as I was editing yesterday’s edition and looking delightfully at the Cebu Pacific Air announcement that their Macau-Manila flights would resume from February! I was already imagining a week of sunshine on the shores of a southerner South China Sea island. Well, that is if the Philippines wouldn’t impose quarantine on arrival, and if Macau had reduced quarantine to 7+7 days; and if, meanwhile, there were no more Omicron “outbreaks” of imported cases in quarantine.

Too many ifs that were dashed in a matter of hours when the Macau health authorities announced in a statement Wednesday night a two-week ban on flights from “countries and regions outside the mainland China from January 9 to January 23.” 

The move is to deter the spread of Covid-19 variants, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre said.

The move followed a Hong Kong announcement of a two-week ban on flights from the United States and seven other countries: eight countries, not all.

There is a pattern here that by now we should have learned to detect in a blink: when it rains in Hong Kong, it pours in Macau. The stock market players, they know better, reacted immediately to the government news in the neighboring SAR, bearish on the Big Six gaming chips by up to 7 percentage points at the closing bell Wednesday.

However, stocks move digitally on a screen, all orders directed from home to the pit. Something a common person can take some control – with more or less risk and success.

What we cannot control is the virus, variants, and SAR governments’ decisions that insist on a zero-tolerance policy when all over the world they are doing otherwise. They follow the lead from Beijing, but mainland China has other concerns and has different problems to deal with.

This is not one-size-fits-all decision-making. The SARs should have autonomy, and we formally have, in health policies.

On top of the latest news, quarantine hotel rooms are fully booked till the end of January, which is also preventing residents from coming and getting a room to quarantine with enough time to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year with family and relatives.

One thing I grant the local government and even HK’s: people here and over there are apathetic and reluctant to get Covid vaccinations, and that, my friends, is a real drag for us all – more isolated than ever from the world.

I’m no Macron, but, “The unvaccinated, I really want to [piss off] them. And so we will continue doing so, to the end.”

Categories Editorial Macau Opinion