The Macau SAR government is working on launching a “health code” system, potentially providing a pathway for the removal of border restrictions between Macau and Guangdong Province.
Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng stated during his policy address on Monday that the government is in close communication with Guangdong Province regarding the timeline for lifting the current mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrivals into Guangdong from Macau. The quarantine measure, introduced in late March, has crushed visitation to Macau.
Health Bureau officials explained on Wednesday that the “health code system” is currently undergoing internal testing. The system is developed on the basis of Macau’s current “health declaration system” in which people must fill in and show an electronic health declaration form before entering government departments.
The code system will classify personal health status with different colors, and those with a “green code” would be allowed to enter Guangdong Province without quarantine.
The COVID-19 testing protocol is also under internal review. Currently, Macau residents holding Zhuhai resident cards are allowed to enter Zhuhai without quarantine, but must undergo a virus test every seven days.
The government will announce details once consensus with Guangdong Province is reached and a feasible measure is determined.
In mainland China, the “health code” system is running on Alipay and WeChat, and is widely required for daily activities such as using public transport and for hotel check-ins. Using GPS in smartphones to trace people’s actual whereabouts, people who have a “green code” represent that they are symptom-free, and have neither visited epidemic areas nor physically contacted COVID-19 patients recently.
However, the Chief Executive has also expressed concerns that Macau’s law strictly protects individuals’ personal information, including whereabouts, from being traced, thus the implementation of the “health code” system between the two areas has caused some difficulties.
Macau has not recorded any new cases of COVID-19 for the past 14 days, with 26 cases having recovered as of Wednesday. There remain 19 patients in hospital, all in a stable condition, while 158 people remain under quarantine in one of three designated hotels.