All Macau casinos closed their doors on Monday after Asia’s gambling capital saw a surge in COVID-19 infections. Macau’s over 30 casinos, as well as other businesses, considered non-essential, will be closed for at least a week during which time people in the former Portuguese colony will have to stay at home.
Macau’s coronavirus numbers have spiked since mid-June and there has been a total of 1,500 infections reported in the last few weeks. According to the Chinese government, there are also close to 20,000 people in mandatory quarantine.
Empty Casinos Even Before the Shut Down
The last time casinos closed in Macau was two years ago. In February 2020, Macau’s casinos were closed for 15 days as authorities were trying to suppress the novel coronavirus.
However, despite being imposed to prevent the spread of the virus, the 15-day closure was very unpopular with casino operators, the people they employed, and gamblers.
The gambling industry in Macau is responsible for over 80% of the government’s revenue and a large portion of Macau’s population has direct or indirect ties to it. So, authorities were reluctant to shut down casinos once again.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t ignore the issue any longer. Due to the government urging people to work from home and avoid crowded places, Macau casinos have been almost empty in the last couple of weeks. Only small numbers of casino employees were called to their posts and virtually no gamblers came to play.
It Will Take Several Months for Casinos to Recover
Even though the initial recommendation was that casinos will stay closed for a week, experts think that casinos will probably remain closed for longer. That means that gaming operators in Macau will once again go down the spiral of losing revenue and, according to analysts, it will take until the end of September, or even December of this year, for casinos to recover.
Terry Ng, an analyst at Daiwa Capital Markets, said that even if the outbreak is put under control soon, it will take at least a few weeks before Macau removed quarantine requirements.
Despite 90% of Macau’s residents being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the city has trouble containing the spread of the Omicron variant. It has even turned two casino resorts into COVID-19 medical facilities in order to handle the surge of new cases better.
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