Macau Orders Schools And Businesses To Shut But Not Casinos, First Outbreak in 8 Months

Macau, the largest gambling center in the world, started its second day of widespread COVID-19 testing on Monday (June 20), after the discovery of dozens of locally transmitted cases over the weekend. Although most businesses and schools were closed, casinos continued to operate normally throughout this time.

As part of China’s “zero COVID” policy, which aims to eliminate all outbreaks at whatever cost, the testing of Macau’s around 600,000 inhabitants is anticipated to come to an end on Tuesday.

While many people have been urged to remain at home, restaurants are closing for dine-in and border controls have been tightened. Experts predict that casino income will be close to nothing for the next week or more.

Monday’s opening bell saw a drop in Macau casinos’ stock prices, with Sands China leading the way with a loss of almost 8 percent, the worst since March 15.  MGM China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, Melco, and SJM Holdings all saw their stocks fall between 4% and 7%.

Casinos provide over 80% of Macau’s government revenue, and the majority of the population is either employed by or dependent on the business.

A statement from Macau’s chief executive, Ho Iat Seng, on the government website said that the new pandemic occurred unexpectedly and swiftly, with the cause still unclear.

In October of last year, Macau saw its first coronavirus outbreak.

There were more than 1 million confirmed illnesses and almost 9,000 fatalities in Hong Kong’s neighboring Chinese territory this year, swamping hospitals and public agencies.

According to authorities in Hong Kong, despite a rise in the number of cases to more than 1,000 per day in the last week, the burden on the city’s medical facilities has not grown.

There is just one public hospital in Macau, and its services are already strained to the limit on a daily basis.

When it comes to testing the whole population, the territory’s proposal comes as it maintains open borders with mainland China, with many of its citizens working and residing there.

As a result, Hong Kong remains mainly isolated from the mainland and the rest of the globe, as China has not opened its borders to the city.

A modified gaming legislation will be approved by Macau’s legislature this week, laying the framework for the multibillion dollar casino operators to continue operating.

According to an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, the finalization of the gaming legislation revisions and the following concession bidding process might be delayed if Macau is unable to rapidly contain the latest outbreak.


The article is paraphrased from the following: Macau shuts most businesses amid COVID outbreak, casinos stay open, June 20, 20225:05 am Updated 2 Hours Ago, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-macau-idUSKBN2O1038

Featured Image Credit: Macau’s first casino, the Lisboa, has been joined by dozens more, turning the former Portuguese colony into the world’s biggest gambling center.Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

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