Macau casinos shut up shop last week for the first time after two years. Back then, the government of the Chinese special administrative region said that they will remain closed for at least a week. That lockdown of casinos has now been extended for five more days, meaning Macau’s 30+ casinos will stay closed until Friday.
Macau’s Medical System Can’t Cope
Authorities in Macau are trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus by forbidding people from leaving their homes unless they have to do an essential activity such as buying food or medicine.
Asia’s gambling capital has had more than 1,700 COVID-19 cases in less than a month (1,706 cases from June 18 until midnight on Friday), and there are over 20,000 people in mandatory quarantine.
As with China’s mainland, Macau has to adhere to the zero-COVID policy the country has been following since the start of the outbreak too.
To make matters worse, despite being the home of 600,000 people, Macau has just one public hospital. So, even before this latest COVID outbreak, the city’s medical system was dealing with more cases than it can handle.
One of the things authorities did to help ease the pressure on the city’s medical facilities was to create a makeshift hospital close to the Cotai strip – Macau’s equivalent of the Las Vegas strip. 600 health workers were called in from China’s mainland to assist Macau’s stretched medical system.
Casinos Will Have to Reopen Soon
Even though authorities were reluctant to completely close casinos and were trying to postpone shutting down Macau’s economic engine for as long as possible, the rapid spread of the virus forced their hand last week.
However, they probably won’t stay closed for too long, especially if Macau goes down the same road as neighboring Hong Kong. Hong Kong has already started lifting some of its COVID-19 restrictions even though there have been more than 3,000 daily cases recently.
The reason is simple. The strict lockdown measures and closures of businesses have negatively affected Hong Kong’s economy and the only way to quickly reboot Asia’s financial hub was to loosen those restrictions as soon as possible.
Something similar will likely happen in Macau. Macau’s casinos are responsible for over 80% of the city’s revenue and almost everyone living in Macau has either a direct or indirect connection to one of its casinos.
So, the sooner casinos reopen, the faster the city and the gambling industry will recover from this latest lockdown. Early estimates say that it might take Macau’s casinos until the end of the year to recover.
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