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OFWs in Macau worried about HK’s new quarantine rule

19 March 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

Macau OFWs have no option but to fly to HK first if they want to go back to their workplaces

Hong Kong’s mandatory home quarantine for travelers arriving from foreign countries starting Mar 19 has become a big concern for Macau-based Filipino workers who intend to go back to their jobs by transiting through the city.

Since travel restrictions were imposed by the Philippines on Filipinos who live and work in China, Hong Kong and Macau on Feb 2, all direct flights between Manila and Macau had been discontinued.

Thus, Filipinos returning to their jobsites in Macau are forced to fly to Hong Kong first from Manila, then take the cross-border bus.
But with Hong Kong requiring all new arrivals to undergo home quarantine for 14 days, Macau OFWs are faced with the dilemma of where to stay in Hong Kong should they be forced to comply with the directive.

One such OFW who has booked a flight to Hong Kong on Mar 21 is worried immigration officers at Chek Lap Kok would take her to a quarantine camp since she has no permanent address in the city.

The worker, R. de Leon, said in a message that she had hoped to clear Hong Kong immigration without a hitch, then take a short bus ride to the HK-Macau-Zhuhai border crossing from where she could take another bus back to her place of residence.
The HK-Macau-Zhuhai bridge is the only open border crossing linking the two SARS with China

“Paano po kung wala akong bahay sa HK? Kasi pagbaba ko ng eroplano sa HK ay diretso ako sa Macau, kasi dun work ko,” De Leon asked.

Nobody seems to have an answer to her dilemma, as Hong Kong authorities have yet to issue guidelines on how arriving passengers who don’t live in the city could be made to undergo the 14-day quarantine.
The only clue came from Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who said during a recent media briefing that Chinese mainlanders will be asked to pay $200 for each day that they spend in a quarantine center.

Consul Paulo Saret, head of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section, said the case of De Leon and other returning Macau-bound OFWs is unique as they only intend to enter Hong Kong on their way to their workplaces.

He said he expects the Philippine Consulate General in Macau to contact them regarding arrangements for the returning workers.
Since the travel ban was imposed, he said ATN staff had been assisting Filipino workers from Macau who had to take a detour to Hong Kong so they could fly back to the Philippines.

Saret said there is a big chance the authorities at HKIA will just let De Leon proceed to the HKMZ bus terminus for her onward travel to Macau.

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But, just in case De Leon and other Macau-bound Filipino workers are not allowed to exit Hong Kong’s airport, they can call Consul Saret directly at +852 6105 5793.

An estimated 50,000 Filipinos work in Macau, mainly as domestic helpers or skilled workers in the enclave's casino and hospitality industry.
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