Amid Covid-19 spike

Macau’s workers association calls for clearer guidelines regarding tests and masks costs in casinos

Authorities have launched mass testing in Macau.
Reading time 2:12 min

The Macao Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) said in a statement that casino employees confirmed they will have to undergo a mandatory nucleic acid test (NAT) every 48 hours as well as a mandatory rapid antigen test (RAT) every day and use KN95 masks in their workplace as measures against Covid-19. For this reason, lawmakers representing the workers’ association have now called for clearer guidelines for casino employees regarding who is to bear the costs of the mandatory tests and masks.

Although the lawmakers agreed with the need to ensure safety and prevent the spread of the virus, Macau Daily Times reports that legislators Ella Lei and Leong Sun Iok expressed worry that employees would suffer an increased financial burden by having to shoulder these expenses, therefore calling for further regulations regarding this matter, and slamming the lack of clear guidance for employees to follow.

According to the association, many workers rushed to pharmacies to acquire these resources due to concerns that they would be out of stock amid ongoing sanitary concerns. "Even though the workers asked supervisors for clarification, they were unable to obtain an unequivocal response," the lawmakers claimed in the statement.

Employees in integrated resorts informed the cited source that many of them have been encouraged to take unpaid leave, while others have been forced to do so. Some already have confirmed schedules showing that they are on unpaid leave from July 1 to July 15, the Times says.

The stringent measure comes after the surge of cases recorded in the city., the worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic. However, while the government has limited its public services, prohibited entertainment venues from operating, and banned restaurants from providing dine-in services, casinos remain open.

On Sunday, a report issued by Macau’s health authorities revealed that they will start requiring all people wishing to enter the city’s casinos to have their body temperature measured and to display a health-declaration statement, as well as a certificate of a valid nucleic acid test issued within the previous 48 hours, in order to prove they are free from any COVID-19 infection.

Macau’s gaming regulator has also issued a statement urging the city’s casino operators to strictly comply with the prevention guidelines set out by the health authorities. Officials are calling for "strengthening cleaning and disinfection work in casinos," and reducing mobility and movement of personnel within the venues. The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau stressed individuals inside casinos should maintain sufficient space between themselves, and wear a protective face mask.

Earlier this month, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said officials would only close individual venues if Covid patients are found to have entered the gaming areas during a specific period. The gaming sector employs the bulk of the local workforce, which puts pressure on officials to avoid a shutdown.

Meanwhile, mainland China announced this week a significant step towards post-Covid life by halving the quarantine period for international visitors from 21 days to 10, including seven days in hotel quarantine. The change was revealed as part of the National Health Commission’s latest guideline on measures against the pandemic, and while there has been no indication of any easing of visa policies between the mainland and Macau, the move is still seen as a positive one by gaming analysts.

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