Not yet the right time for schools to reopen

Macau has not yet reached a level of safety that would prompt the government to reopen schools and other educational facilities, Wong Ka Ki, head of the Department of Non-tertiary Education in the Education and Youth Development Bureau (DSEDJ), said at yesterday’s regular health press briefing.
The government has announced the reopening from tomorrow of a large number of facilities and venues that had been ordered to close, such as entertainment venues, health and beauty centers as well as sports venues.
Wong said that schools reopening is still undergoing analysis and negotiation.
According to the DSEDJ official, there is not yet a consensus among the different stakeholders for the resumption of in-person classes, so the bureau is for the time being focused on supporting online classes and activities.
During the same press briefing, the Coordinator of the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center, Dr. Leong Iek Hou, elaborated on the topic, stating that the authorities will also consider the reopening of other types of venues such as outdoor playgrounds, barbecue areas, and other leisure venues” in a phased manner and according to a risk evaluation.” She added that such openings would still be conditional on restrictions such as limits on the number of people in a venue, social distancing and temperature checking.

Gov’t guidelines are a minimum standard
Leong was also questioned on the topic of policies in society at large which are stricter than those imposed by the health authorities, such as mandatory vaccination to enter a venue, participate in an event or simply fulfill work duties. She responded that the guidelines from the health authorities are not too strict and that different public and private entities are welcome to enforce measures which exceed the safety level of those imposed by health authorities.
“Different entities and services might decide, according to their needs, [to have] stricter Covid-19 measures than the guidelines issued by the Health Bureau (SSM). We have no problem with such decisions and we welcome them,” Leong said.
Leong was questioned on the tension between these measures and statements by the local government that vaccination is a voluntary procedure and no one can be forced to do it against their will and asked about what would happen if a person is barred from taking an oath for not being vaccinated. Leong’s only reply was that the SSM has no authority to decide on such cases. RM

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