Number of non-resident workers entering the city rises as quarantine measures enforcement approaches

Representatives from the Public Security Police Force (CPSP) admitted today that the flow of non-resident work permit holders – know as ‘blue cards’ – has increased “significantly” at local borders as the enforcement deadline for new quarantine measures approaches.

Local authorities announced yesterday that in order to prevent the transmission of Covid-19, starting from midnight of February 20 all non-resident ‘blue card’ workers wishing to enter Macau SAR and who have visited Mainland China in the 14 days prior to their entry will need to undergo medical observation for 14 days in Zhuhai.

Some non-resident workers involved in sectors considered to be crucial to the local society, such as workers involved in the supply and transport of food to the city, could request to be exempted from these measures.

With several blue cards from Mailand China usually not residing in Macau and crossing the border regularly, the Macau government advised employers to provide non-resident employees with accommodation so they do not have to leave the city.

Yesterday a total of 21,000 non-resident workers entered the city – in previous days that number had dropped to about 11,000 entries daily – with 19,000 going out, with the CPSP Assistant Commissioner Vong Vai Hong attributing the “significant increase” to the re-opening of several companies and businesses that had been closed for almost three weeks.

“The increase can also be attributed to the new measures but is mainly due to the re-start of many SME operations,” he added.

According to the CPSP, as of 4:00pm of today, a total of 20,000 non-resident workers entered the city with some 17,000 blue cards leaving the city.

The CPSP Commissioner of the Traffic Department, Ma Chio Hong, also dismissed rumors online that large overcrowding had been reported at local borders this morning, especially at the Gongbei Border, stating border flows had remained at normal levels.

The number of non-residents entering the city is also expected to decrease after February 20.

When asked what efforts will be implemented to avoid that non-resident workers remain in illegal accommodations, police authorities stated that since January 27 has conducted several joint investigations, with 441 suspected illicit housings inspected.

During the daily 5:00pm press conference, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre Coordinator, Dr. Lei Wai Seng, also urged employers to assure that the accommodation they provide to non-resident workers follows all required sanitary and health requirements.

With hotel occupancy rates reaching 11 per cent between February 1 and 14, it was also indicated hotels have been housing non-resident workers in rooms in their properties.

Health authorities admitted the increase of the number of non-resident workers staying in the city posed some increased health risks, but that having them crossing the border with Mailand China regularly posed an even greater risk.

The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) head of Licensing and Inspections, Ines Chan, also revealed that non-resident workers who arrive at the Macau International Airport who have been in mainland China but are unable to undergo quarantine in Zhuhai will have to undergo quarantine at the Pousada Marina Infante and will have to shoulder MOP8,750 (US$1,093) in medical costs.

No new confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in the last two weeks.

A total of 1,419 people were tested in Macau until today, with only 10 Covid-19 cases confirmed, of which five have already left medical care and the other five are in low-risk stable conditions.

[To be updated]