Feature: COVID-19 deals heavy blow to Macao's "Golden Week" holiday-Xinhua

Feature: COVID-19 deals heavy blow to Macao's "Golden Week" holiday

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2021-10-08 19:57:01

MACAO, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- The just-concluded week-long National Day holiday, often dubbed the "Golden Week" holiday, was an extraordinary one for the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) due to the blows dealt by COVID-19.

Since Sept. 24, the SAR has reported 10 COVID-19 cases. Starting Sept. 26, travelers who enter Zhuhai city in the mainland neighboring Macao via the land border between the two cities are required to take 14 days of quarantine.

The epidemic dealt a heavy blow on Macao, a city highly dependent on tourism and is also home or destination to a large number of workers who commute between Macao and the neighboring mainland cities every day.

Guo Daoqian, a housing decoration worker who lives in Zhuhai and used to commute to Macao for work, has been stranded in the SAR since Sept. 26. At first, the company Guo worked for rented hotel guest rooms for him and his co-workers, but as time went by, they decided to move into the company's warehouse.

"It's too expensive for us to stay at hotels for so long," he told Xinhua.

The SAR government has opened two temporary shelters for stranded workers like Guo, offering about 330 beds in total. It also called for employers to provide accommodation for these workers.

The epidemic left Macao a quiet holiday, which is in sharp contrast to the same period of previous years. Few people were seen at famous tourist spots such as the Ruins of St. Paul and the Senado Square which used to be crowded with tourists.

Official figures showed that only around 35,000 people crossed the border during the holiday. Last year, over 156,000 travelers visited Macao during the eight-day "Golden Week" holiday from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8.

Nevertheless, the average daily number of visitors during the holiday last year dropped by 86 percent from the figure of the same period of 2019.

Fong Kin Fu, board chairman of the Federal General Commercial Association of Macao Small and Medium Enterprises, said business owners had expected this holiday to make up for the losses they suffered earlier this year due to the epidemic.

However, the new cases, reported near the end of September and again on Oct. 4 and 5 respectively, made their plans fall through. Some small and micro businesses had to close temporarily or even permanently.

"This was the most painful 'Golden Week' holiday for Macao," Fong said.

Macao conducted two rounds of mass testing for COVID-19 on Sept. 26 and Oct. 4 respectively, with the results all coming out negative.

Lei Choi Chu, a doctor at a major public hospital in Macao, said medical workers had been working round the clock during the past days for the mass testing as well as frequent testing for residents in areas where the confirmed cases had lived or been to.

"Each round of testing took over 10 hours," Lei said, adding that medical staff had to work for six hours in a row and only take a short break before starting working again.

Epidemiologists said they had to overcome the language barriers in order to conduct the surveys because several of the confirmed cases had been of foreign nationalities.

The public have voiced hope that the epidemic can be over soon and that the SAR government can take measures to relieve pressure on businesses and people's livelihood so as to help with economic recovery.

"The most important thing is to make Macao a really safe place for tourists," Fong said, suggesting that the government speed up vaccination among the public.

Official figures showed that as of Friday, about 385,000 people out of the SAR's total population of around 680,000 had been inoculated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccines. Enditem