Tight security was put in place around the handover ceremony venue yesterday as the final countdown to Macau's return to China began. Some 1,500 residents and workers in 12 residential and office blocks in the New Land Reclamation Area and Macau Cultural Centre must carry special identification cards until next Monday, when the Macau Special Administrative Region is established. Police constables began checks yesterday on the identification cards of all those entering or leaving the area. The security measures will force restaurants and other businesses in the area to close from Friday to Monday. A police spokesman said the measures were necessary to safeguard the security of about 2,500 local and foreign dignitaries invited to attend the handover ceremony at midnight on Sunday. There will be representatives from 56 countries and 36 international organisations. While some residents in the area said yesterday the measures were understandable, others expressed dismay. 'This is an historic event, so I think it's okay,' said a middle-aged man who was leaving the area to have dinner in a restaurant with his two young sons. But a saleswoman living in one of the blocks said the measures meant 'big trouble'. 'My boyfriend forgot to apply for the special ID card, so he can't visit me until after the handover,' the 23-year old said. Marine and Customs police have announced they will restrict shipping in areas near the waterfront Macau Handover Auditorium over the weekend. Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau police forces have stepped up border security arrangements in the run-up to the handover.