The mainland China government will resume the approval of visas to Macau for residents in all provinces from 12 August, albeit not for tourist purposes.
The latest policy is not related to the highly anticipated return of the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) but is another positive indication that Macau and mainland China are gradually returning to normal interactions.
Guangdong Province resumed the approval of visas to Macau for Guangdong residents on 15 July, which included Guangdong removing its mandatory 14-day quarantine policy for visitors returning from Macau but limited the visas to family and business purposes. This visa policy will extend to residents of all provinces in China from 12 August.
Chinese residents living in Guangdong but not registered to a Guangdong household account are also allowed to apply to visit Macau for business or family purposes, representing a further easing of border restrictions between Macau and mainland China.
At present, visitors returning from Macau are exempt from mandatory quarantine but must stay in Guangdong Province for two weeks before they are allowed to enter or return to any other province.
The Guangdong government stated it will actively support Macau gradually resuming normal interactions with residents in Guangdong and other provinces. However, immigration policy is authorized by the central government, so IVS must wait for further clarification from the relevant departments.
Those policies are limited to Macau and mainland China at the moment, with Hong Kong not yet a party to negotiations due to its latest battle with COVID-19.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the individual visit scheme (IVS), which was first introduced in 2003, allowed mainland Chinese living in 49 of mainland China’s most economically developed cities to visit Macau or Hong Kong for up to seven days as independent travellers rather than as part of a tour group.