Entry exemptions for foreign teaching professionals not extended to spouse or next of kin

The entry exemption granted to non-resident foreign nationals under a new entry trial scheme for foreign teachers and research staff will not cover their spouses or relatives, health authorities said today (Thursday).

Since last month local health authorities have advanced a trial scheme covering applications from foreign teaching or research personnel that are in short supply locally – especially Portuguese language teachers – management staff of educational institutions, as well as students admitted to local higher educational institutions.

Speaking in the weekly pandemic update press conference, Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre Coordinator Dr. Leong Iek Hou indicated that nine applications have been submitted under this trial scheme, of which seven were foreign teachers.

However, she was adamant that exceptions will not be provided as of now to the spouses or next of kin of the professionals covered by the entry scheme.

Non-residents have been barred entry to Macau since March, 2020. Some exemptions can be granted on a case per case basis, but the entry for spouses or next-of-kin of residents is only allowed if the applicants have remained for more than 14 days either in Mainland China or Hong Kong.

This entry path is particularly difficult for people who do not hold Chinese nationality, with applicants not even assured they can be granted an entry exemption in the SAR before having entered the mainland or Hong Kong.

Dr. Leong indicated last week that only with a higher vaccination rate can authorities start contemplating allowing entry exemptions for relatives of local residents.

Last month Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Elsie Ao Ieong, also indicated that the SAR is working on a plan to allow non-residents from selected foreign nations to enter, with Portugal named as the first choice for the scheme.

Since April 25 local authorities started receiving applications for eligible domestic workers or prospective domestic workers of Philippine nationality for an exemption from entry restrictions through their employer or employment agency.

Until now some 12 applications have been received, of which eight were approved.