Options for residents to return from overseas now almost non-existent

Travel agencies contacted by Macau News Agency stated that after the decision by Taiwanese authorities…

Travel agencies contacted by Macau News Agency stated that after the decision by Taiwanese authorities to prohibit transit passengers, there are basically no available options for local residents outside Asia, especially in Europe, to return to Macau.

Taiwan health authorities have recently announced that starting from January 1, 2021 entry restrictions and quarantine regulations for foreign nationals will be tightened, including for transit travellers, cutting off one of the only pathways for Macau residents to travel to and from outside Asia.

Previously local travel agencies provided packages that allowed for people departing or returning to Macau to reach Europe or the US via transit through the Taipei international airport, with three agencies contacted by MNA stating that options are now very limited or almost non-existent.

According to a representative from travel agency Sinceridade one of the only options could be to quarantine in Hong Kong in order to catch a flight from the international airport at the neighbouring SAR, however, this option is not available for people returning.

Hong Kong has barred entry in the city for any non-residents, except passengers travelling from Mainland China, Taiwan or Macau, that have not been to any other country/region in the past 14 days.

Travellers arriving in Hong Kong from mainland China, Macau, and Taiwan still have to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a hotel.

“Until now for a foreigner wanting to depart Macau, Taiwan was the only choice since Mainland China is still not allowing the entry of foreign nationals. One of the only options could be to complete the 14-day quarantine in Hong Kong and then take a flight to Europe,” a Sinceridade representative told MNA.

“It’s the only way. At the moment Air Macau has no flights to Tokyo or South Korea. Even they said there would be a flight Tokyo to Macau every Thursday, this was also cancelled. The Taipei route was the only way and now this is suspended too. If you want to go as soon as possible only with quarantine in Hong Kong”

Air Macau previously stated that it will maintain a Tokyo-Macau route every Thursday in January of next year, except on January 4, however, flights on this route have been repeatedly cancelled.

Japan has also announced that starting from January, Japanese citizens and foreign residents can still enter the country but are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, with transit flights for foreign nationals are only allowed through Narita International Airport (NRT).

Travel agency HN Travel also described quarantine in Hong Kong as one of the only ways to reach destinations in Europe for people departing from Macau

According to the travel agency Sinceridade, coming from Europe to Macau at the moment is also virtually impossible, as Hong Kong is only allowing its own residents to return to the city.

“Otherwise at the check-in in Europe, they won’t even allow you to take the flight to Hong Kong. The way via Mainland China is also blocked to foreigners.”

The agency indicated that many local residents who went to Portugal for the holidays and planned to return after the New Year’s Eve also had to cancel their travel arrangements.

In a statement published on its social media page, the Consulate General of Portugal in Macau and Hong Kong indicated that it was discussing with local authorities for solutions to be arranged for the several Portuguese nationals with resident status in the Macau SAR who are in Portugal and intend to return to Macau.

Last week the Macau government has also extended the mandatory novel coronavirus quarantine period for arrivals from Hong Kong and the rest of the world except mainland China and Taiwan from 14 days to 21 days.

The Sinceridade representative also noted that at the moment people wanting to return can only wait for more information and way for possible charter flights to be organised by the Macau government, especially for the many local students currently stranded in the UK.

According to a representative from Hong Thai Travel Services, there was information that EVA Air was planning to organise a special charter flight from London to Macau, however, the company has still to confirm the flight will take place.