As of 5 p.m. yesterday, 3,135 people have signed up to participate in the “Macao Ready Go! Local Tours” scheme on its opening day, Inês Chan, an official from the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) announced to a press conference.
“Out of the [total] registrants, 40% registered for community tours and 60% leisure tours,” Chan disclosed. As per the promotional materials already released, community tours will conduct sightseeing around neighborhoods, while leisure tours will mainly take place in integrated resorts, with dining opportunities in those premises given government sponsorship.
“We also see that itineraries covering teamLab are exceptionally popular,” Chan added. teamLab is a brand from Japan that operates multimedia light shows. It has just started a new resident show in the city.
“One of the three teamLab itineraries has so far attracted more than 400 registrants,” Chan disclosed.
Although it is only the first day, the local tour scheme will likely generate a massive turnout. A lot of non-resident workers have commented on social media to express their anticipation of the scheme, despite the organizers falling behind by not getting English and Portuguese promotional materials ready in the first few days.
Meanwhile, public announcements are still being made on public transport and through government loudspeakers to stress the importance of maintaining social distance, wearing a facemask and avoiding crowd gatherings.
As a result, the popularity of the local tour scheme may contravene the reminders of the Health Bureau (SSM) on Covid-19 containment. However, Chan explained that registrants should feel reassured because there will be guidelines to follow.
“Tour guides have or will receive specific training with regards to the current situation prior to the commencement of tours,” Chan explained. “The SSM has also given us advice on [epidemic prevention].”
The tourism official stressed that operators will be reminded about the general sanitization procedures and measures required.
Chan also explained that anti-epidemic measures differ between each itinerary as the locations each of them will visit vary in nature.
“Some itineraries cover more outdoor activities and more sightseeing, while others are indoor,” the official said. “That’s why measures required for each itinerary or group differs.”
The scheme is operated by three local tourism industry associations under the patronage of the MGTO. It is part of the economic revival measures prescribed in Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng’s first policy address.
Each Macau resident is sponsored with MOP560 at maximum to participate in up to two of the 15 itineraries offered in the scheme. Additional and non-local participations will receive no subsidy.
The itineraries are divided into community and leisure oriented. The subsidy for each resident can only be used on each type once.
On the other hand, yesterday saw the first batch of Macau residents returning home through the Hong Kong International Airport by special ferry. The route has temporarily resumed to give Macau residents a way to come home.
As of 5 p.m. yesterday, 877 Macau residents had registered with the Higher Education Bureau to use the special ferry service. In addition, the 2 p.m. inbound ferry yesterday took 48 residents back.
All residents taking this route will have their body temperatures measured and their swab test sample collected on-site at the Taipa Ferry Terminal, before being taken to the quarantine hotel for 14 days.
Furthermore, people who have an urgent need to depart Macau for other places can also take the special ferry to the Hong Kong airport for their flights. Chan said that the 9 a.m. outbound ferry yesterday took 12 passengers.
Should a person be unable to board a flight due to its cancellation or for other reasons, that traveler is allowed to take the next available ferry back to Macao, provided they comply with Macao epidemic-control measures in place at the relevant time. They will be subjected to the 14 days quarantine but exempted from quarantine fees.
ZHUHAI QUARANTINE WAIVER
The SSM announced yesterday that the channels for quarantine waivers in Zhuhai will resume in taking applications from today. Each day the online platform allow only 1,000 submissions. Once the quota is used up, no more applications will be accepted for the concerned date.
Macau residents who do not possess a Zhuhai Residence Card can apply for the waiver on grounds of public or business reasons. The Macau government has previously stressed that reasons such as having dinner in Zhuhai will not be accepted.
Qualified residents will only be allowed to remain in Zhuhai and Macau for a seven-day period. The first qualified travel will take place on June 23.
Zhuhai authorities require these qualified travellers to use either the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge or the Lotus Bridge in Cotai.