Local F&B businesses opt for lax enforcement of new health code requirements

*With Jing Wu

Several food & beverage establishments in the Macau Peninsula seemed to be not strictly enforcing recent government requirements to demand all clients to show a green health code before entry, Macau News Agency assessed.

Starting from today (Wednesday) a green health code must be presented when entering food & beverage establishments, with bus and taxi drivers authorised to request to check the health code and allowed to not let customers in without the code.

A staff member of Ji Ming Mei Shi, a local restaurant in Areia Preta, told MNA that it was very complicated to check the health code by the reason of the difficulties of understaffed and the insufficient digital literacy of older adults.

When MNA entered the restaurant about at 3:30 pm with a maximum of 7 clients indoors, staff did not request MNA to show the health code.

“We put a poster this morning, but we didn’t check the health code. Mostly, our customers are old people from the block. They do not know how to use a smartphone,” the employee said.

“We are a small local restaurant. We have no time to check one by one when we are busy”

Most restaurants checked in the Areia Preta displayed posters informing residents over the new policy but most do not demand clients to provide the code.

In another restaurant near the Tap Seac Square library staff only requested to check the health code after clients had already been seated and handed menus, with no checks at the door, as a way to avoid ‘scaring’ clients away.

However, most supermarkets and large retail stores checked in the same area requested residents to present the code

Meanwhile, buses also posted a notice that people with a yellow code or red code are not allowed to enter the car. Nevertheless, bus drivers were not seen requesting passengers to present a health code.

Questioned about this issue today Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre Coordinator Dr. Leong Iek Hou indicated that drivers were not forced to check the health code and could decide whether to do it.

“If bus drivers check the code of every passenger this could cause many delays in bus routes,” Leong noted.

Health representatives today also indicated that if elderly residents do not have smartphones, they can also prepare health codes in advance and print them out on paper.

“We understand that these measures are very inconvenient for the public, especially the elderly and children, but they are necessary during this high-risk period,” the Coordinator of the Department of Infectious Disease Prevention and Disease Surveillance of the Health Bureau, Tai Wa Hou, said in the daily update press conference.

The neighbouring Guangdong Province has reported more than 100 locally transmitted cases since May 21, most of them in Guangzhou and Foshan.

A system failure this morning also difficult the issue of Macau Health Code this morning, with Leong noting the malfunction lasted for about an hour.

The main reason given for the malfunction was an interface connection issue between the Macau Health Code system and Guangdong Nucleic Acid Database, with the transfer of health codes required for entry in both regions.

Anyone crossing the borders with Guangdong province with Macau is currently required to present a negative Covid-19 test 48 hours before entering the territory, a policy that has led to an increase in the demand for nucleic acid tests, with recent policies demanding a higher use of the health code generating system.

People entering hotel premises and apartments, restaurants, bars, karaoke, dance halls, saunas, massage parlors and health clubs must also present the green Macau health code, with no entry allowed for anyone with a red or yellow code.

Today the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) held several initiatives to explained and promote the new policy to the industry while inspecting establishments and asking relevant responsible persons and front-line staff to understand the implementation status.

Establishments caught not enforcing the current health code policies could incur a fine of up to MOP60,000.