Legislator Lo Choi In has suggested establishing a travel bubble with mainland cities with a stable pandemic situation for small tour groups of ten people as a way to help recover the local economy.
The legislator indicated that the current economic situation is still not optimistic, and the SAR government must protect the foundation of the local economy, especially to control the rising unemployment rate.
Data from the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC) shows that the overall unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2022 is 3.5 per cent, while the unemployment rate of local residents is 4.5 per cent.
While mainland individual travel visas for visits to Macau were resumed in 2020 visas for package tours – almost half of the previous visitation in the city – have remained suspended since then.
Therefore, Lo suggested that the government should consider forming a travel bubble with mainland cities where the pandemic is under control for tour groups with a maximum of 10 people and open up travel to each other with relaxed Customs entry policies.
Last year, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she had discussed with Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng to study the possibility of setting up a “Hong Kong and Macau travel bubble” with Macau and the mainland.
Ho replied that Hong Kong must have no new confirmed Covid cases for at least 14 onsecutive days before details concerning travel bubbles with Macau can be discussed.
Moreover, the CE pointed out at the time that Macau was waiting for the central government’s approval of allowing Macau and mainland residents to travel across the border without nucleic acid testing requirements, and hoped to send a message to the mainland that Macau is “a very healthy city”.
Currently, mainland arrivals are still required to hold a negative Covid nucleic acid test certificate conducted within 72 hours to enter Macau.
The legislator expressed that the government’s strict pandemic prevention measures, such as the maximum number of 200 people for banquet gatherings and the 72-hour nucleic acid testing requirements for Custom entry, have caused trouble for many enterprises.
Lo stressed that the vaccination rate in Macau is already very high, and the government has formulated a series of detailed pandemic control measures to be prepared for a future pandemic outbreak in the city.
Therefore, the legislator called for the government to focus more on the local economy and citizen’s livelihood, and support the survival of local enterprises.