Macau Bans International Flights for Two Weeks as COVID Situation Worsens

  • The 14-day ban comes into effect at midnight on Sunday and will last until Jan 23
  • Authorities are introducing the ban in response to COVID-19 cases in Macau
  • International air travelers already had to quarantine upon arrival in the region
  • It is unclear how significantly the Omicron variant will impact GGR in Macau
Woman looking at flights board in airport
A new 14-day ban on all international travel is coming into place on Sunday in Macau. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Attempts to protect public health

Macau is bringing into effect a 14-day ban on international flights. The measure will begin at midnight on Sunday and end January 23 at 23:59. The Macau Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre announced the news on Wednesday.

a possible risk associated with Covid-19”

Officials are banning travel from outside mainland China to reduce “a possible risk associated with Covid-19 for public health in Macau.” Health official Leong Iek Hou confirmed on Thursday that the ban would not include air travel into Macau from Taiwan.

Macau has seen a recent uptick in the number of highly transmissible Omicron variant cases among overseas travelers. The first of these came on Christmas Day in the form of a male Macau ID holder who had arrived back in the region from the US, flying through Singapore.  

Restrictions already in place

Under current Macau restrictions, travelers from outside of mainland China must quarantine straight away after arrival, even if they initially test negative for coronavirus. Authorities revealed news of three new cases of COVID-19 in travelers from overseas on Wednesday.

Before the commencement of the 14-day ban, stricter quarantine rules came into place Thursday for overseas travelers categorized as “very high risk.” The Macau authorities announced the stricter rules on December 30, with 22 countries on the list.

Some countries on the “very high risk” list include the Philippines, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, and the US.

Before people can fly to Macau from “very high risk” destinations, they must showcase three negative COVID-19 nucleic tests within five days of arrival, with a gap of at least 24 hours between the tests. These travelers are now subject to a 28-day quarantine period upon arriving in Macau.

An unclear future

Macau relies heavily on tax revenue from the casino sector, which has struggled since the onset of the pandemic. While people from most areas of mainland China are currently still able to visit Macau with minimal restrictions, the move to ban international air travel will likely have a knock-on impact for gaming revenue.

Total GGR in the region last year rose 44% year-to-year

The two-week ban only comes a few days after the Macau authorities revealed the gross gaming revenue (GGR) figures for 2021. Total GGR in the region last year rose 44% year-to-year but was still 70% lower than 2019 figures.

The final few months of 2021 saw some easing of restrictions, leading to improving revenue figures and visitor numbers. However, it is unclear what awaits Macau’s gaming sector in the coming months as the Omicron variant continues to wreak havoc.

VegasSlotsOnline News has provided some expectations for the Macau casino sector in its gambling industry predictions for 2022.