Wong Sio Chak says Guangdong policies were rushed

Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak has considered Guangdong’s latest entry policies to have been “rushed,” creating in turn a slight chaos in Macau, Wong commented during Friday’s daily press conference of the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center.

On Thursday, Guangdong suddenly announced that the province would implement new entry polices designated for less border traffic. The policies suggested that the Guangdong government would send all arrivers to governmental quarantine facilities for a period of 14 days, a policy similar to that of Macau. However, the difference is that arrivers should bear the costs from their own pocket, whereas the Macau government is covering expenses of its own local residents.

The restriction came into effect 6 a.m. Friday, with little detail explained to the public or to the Macau SAR government, until Wong Sio Chak had a meeting with Guangdong government officials this afternoon.

Guangdong gave exemptions to people who belong to the below “four” categories.

The first one includes people travelling for urgent business purposes or governmental issues. The definition of urgent business and governmental issues is still unclear.

The second category includes drivers of double-plated cars or Macau single-plated cars which have been allowed to enter Hengqin.

Another group includes workers in Guangdong and Macau cooperation industrial zone and workers in the Macau-Zhuhai cross-border industrial zone.

The last group includes individuals who maintain ordinary routines across Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong. However, the definition of such individuals remains “not too clear”.

People aged above 70 years old or below 14 years old, pregnant women, and people with diseases that receive medical treatment in Zhuhai will also be exempted from the 14-day quarantine. Zhuhai hospital visitors must return to Macau on the same day.

All above-mentioned individuals must apply for the exemption at Zhuhai’s border from the port’s customs authority. An answer will be given to the applicants immediately. Once the applicant is approved to enter without the 14-day quarantine, the concerned person must sign a document promising that they hat not visited a foreign country, Hong Kong, or Taiwan in the past 14-days, as well as declaring their health condition.

Even though these parties can enter mainland China without the need to undergo a 14-day quarantine, their travel will still be limited within Guangdong province. In addition, quarantine-exempted individuals still need to pass a medical test for the coronavirus.

According to government statistics, currently, 6,600 Macau local residents are residing in Zhuhai, including students.

Even though the Guangdong government has already implemented this policy, the province is still waiting for an approval from the Central Government, according to Wong. “The policy is still under revision at the Central Government and it is still unknown if and when all policies will be launched.”

Commenting on the policy, Wong said “measures should have a transitional period.”

“We fully understand mainland China because there they need multiple ‘layers’ of approvals to implement a policy,” said Wong, adding “we hoped they could have tried to provide us with more information on time.”

Statistically, over 6,600 Macau residents currently live in Zhuhai but work and study in Macau. However, in reality, more Macau local residents travel frequently between Macau and Zhuhai, or possibly live in Zhuhai. Approximately 11,000 Macau residents are living in Zhuhai.

It is still undisclosed how long the restriction will last. Further changes will depend on the development of the COVID-19 situation, with Macau still waiting to have a discussion with mainland regarding the restriction.

Earlier this week, the city’s Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng announced that a possible entry policy relaxation could be announced in the beginning of April for mainland China workers to return to their post in Macau.

Guangdong is not the first province implementing the quarantine upon entry policy. Previously, in other provinces in mainland China, a returnee or a visitor, regardless of nationality, were already required to stay 14 days at home with strict community inspection measures arranged.

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