China's National Immigration Administration (NIA) has announced that the smart visa facility would be reopened to all of mainland China on November 1, allowing mainland residents to apply for group and individual travel to Macau via the site.
The notice adds, “Mainland residents can apply for group travel and individual travel visas using the smart visa facility at the entry-exit administration department of their household registration or usual place of residence, without the need to submit paper applications.
“Persons from areas with medium to high-risk of epidemic and those with a history of residence in medium to high-risk areas are not allowed to use the smart visa facility.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic in early 2020, applications for group excursions to Macau will be accepted for the first time.
Applications for travel to Macau from mainland China under the Individual Visit Scheme were suspended in March 2020 and reopened on September 23 of that year; however, the use of the smart visa facility, or eVisas, remained suspended, with mainland residents only able to apply in person at public security departments using paper applications.
Ho Iat Seng, the Chief Executive of Macau, disclosed in September that he had applied to the Central Government for the resumption of group tours and eVisas to Macau and that the first phase would be open to "four provinces and one city" – namely Guangdong Province, Zhejiang Province, Jiangxi Province, Fujian Province, and Shanghai. However, according to the NIA's release, the facility will be open nationally, with the exception of medium- to high-risk zones.
Kenneth Fong, an analyst at Credit Suisse, stated in a note that he expected this move to provide "share price support" to Macau's concessionaires, whose share values had been decimated by the pandemic.
Concerns continue, however, regarding the current outbreak in Guangdong Province, with Guangzhou recording over 500 cases on Sunday and numerous regions on the mainland barring the entry of people from that city.
With at least seven confirmed cases thus far, Macau is similarly in the early stages of its most recent outbreak. Parts of Macau have been identified as focus zones, and a number of structures, notably MGM Cotai, have been declared as red code areas until November 1.
Due to these outbreaks, the entrance and exit requirements for travellers between Zhuhai and Macau have been modified to need a negative COVID test taken within the prior 24 hours, a reduction from the previous 48-hour range.
By fLEXI tEAM