This photo taken on Oct. 20, 2022 shows a view of the Cotai Strip in Macau.
Eduardo Leal | AFP | Getty Images
China’s immigration bureau said mainland residents will be able to travel to Macau from Nov. 1 using an online visa system instead of in-person applications, a move that could boost travel to the country’s biggest gambling hub. world.
Face-to-face applications have been necessary for the past two and a half years due to Covid-19 restrictions. But the office said on Monday that as the current Covid situation in Macau was “stable” and demand to visit the city was increasing, the government decided to offer electronic visas.
The bureau said it will “implement entry and exit management policies and measures to promote economic and social development” in Macau in a notice posted on the government’s official WeChat account.
But the easing of visa rules comes just as Macau’s own government reinstated some tough covid measures after a handful of cases were detected there in recent days after more than three months of no infections.
Authorities have blocked the MGM Cotai casino owned by MGM China on Sunday, with staff and guests ordered to remain indoors until Nov. 1. All 700,000 Macau residents are mandated to take rapid antigen tests daily during the period, the government said.
The casino closure deals a heavy blow to operators who have already been struggling with China’s “zero Covid” restrictions for more than two and a half years, losing millions of dollars a month.
Macau’s six casino operators Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China, Melco Resorts e SJM Holdings — are currently awaiting a government decision on whether they will be granted new licenses.
Macau executives said a decision could come as early as this week.