Macau shapes economic plans to recover from Covid-19 hit

Local | Amy Nip 21 Apr 2020

Macau will see a fiscal deficit this year for the first time since its 1999 handover with the administration spending 50 billion patacas (HK$48.5 billion) to fight the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Executive Ho Iat-sing said in his first policy address yesterday.

The virus is the most serious public health crisis that Macau has had to face since the handover, Ho said. So the priority now was to ensure stability for residents and then reboot the economy.

Relief measures and increased spending have included a cash handout of 10,000 patacas to citizens and also 8,000-pataca vouchers for boosting consumption. Tax concessions have also been arranged.

And with the virus outbreak in Macau "largely under control" now, the administration is shifting its Covid-19 focus to preventing cases from being imported,Ho said.

Authorities reported yesterday that there had not been any new cases for 12 consecutive days. There had been 45 confirmed cases so far, with 43 imported and two linked to the imported cases.

If there is no new case by the end of this month, Ho said, it would be time for resuming arrivals of mainland visitors.

So the SAR "will ask the central government to resume approval of tourist visas for Macau . . . and to increase the number of cities covered in the individual visit scheme," Ho said.

Currently, there are 49 cities covered in the individual visit scheme.

Ho also cautioned that Macau remains heavily reliant on gaming so the administration will look for other activities to offer.

And to create jobs checks on around 200 small and medium sized construction projects are in hand.

Part of the Taipa ferry complex will also be redeveloped to accommodate helicopters.

amy.nip@singtaonewscorp.com

Jasmine Ling

An Indian businessman has been sentenced to four weeks in jail for breaching a quarantine order, making him the first visitor jailed since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kumar Deepak, 31, pleaded guilty to leaving an assigned place of quarantine without permission from an authorized officer when he appeared at a Kwun Tong magistrates' court yesterday.

Deepak, a software merchant, traveled to Hong Kong from Turkey on March 21 and was placed under a written quarantine order for 14 days at Mojo Nomad Aberdeen Harbour Hotel in Aberdeen. The next day he tried to leave Hong Kong via Shenzhen Bay control point without permission and was stopped by immigration department officers.

He was sent to a quarantine center in isolation for two weeks.

His lawyer said Deepak received another document about how to go to the mainland from the home affairs department when he arrived and misinterpreted it as permission to leave the city, adding that he was deeply remorseful for causing trouble. His jail sentence was reduced from six to four weeks, given his guilty plea and clean record.

The case was the first violation of the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation, since its implementation on March 19. The regulation stipulates travelers from, or who have stayed in, overseas countries two weeks before their arrival must undergo compulsory quarantine for 14 days,

Offenders who flouted the regulation would face a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and imprisonment for six months.

That came as operators of two upstairs bars appeared in Kowloon City magistrates' courts for breaching the ban on taverns opening for business.

Lam Pak-wang, 41, and Ng Tan, 49, were arrested while operating Virgo in Tsim Sha Tsui on April 10.

On the following day, officers arrested Leung Lap-yan, 42, for running Barbe in the same district.

The trio were each charged with one count of failing to comply with the directions of the secretary for food and health issued under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation.

They were granted an adjournment to give them more time to seek legal advice.

The three operators were granted bail of HK$5,000 each and banned from traveling. Lam and Ng will return to court on May 25, and Leung on May 18.

The government has ordered the closure of all bars and pubs starting from 6pm on April 3.

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