Until July 11

Macau: SJM’s Grand Lisboa ordered to close with 500 people inside amid Covid-19 outbreak; first casino shutdown in two years

SJM Holding Ltd.’s Grand Lisboa Palace Resort in Macau.
Reading time 2:02 min

The public entrances at Macau SJM Holding’s Grand Lisboa Palace Resort were sealed on Tuesday afternoon, trapping 500 people inside, as the city faces an unprecedented outbreak of Covid-19 cases.  

The shutdown began on Tuesday and it is expected to last until July 11. It comes after authorities found 13 infections linked to the resort. Officials also locked down three floors of the 'Shoppes at Four Seasons', a shopping center at Sands China's Plaza Macao, after another cluster was found there. The rest of the resort remains open for the time being. 

Cheong Kin Ian, a representative from the police force, said that the authorities were still assessing the Covid situation in the city to see whether a lockdown will be imposed over the weekend. For the time being, there are no current plans to impose stricter measures, officials said, urging residents not to hoard necessities, as reported by Bloomberg.

In a Wednesday statement, SJM said that “proper care has been extended to all affected employees, guests and tenants” at the venue, including the provision of accommodation and three daily meals. “Grand Lisboa also arranges orderly delivery of essentials to those affected as sent by families and friends in accordance with the government precautionary guidelines,” it added.

The lockdown represents the first time that a casino has been shut closed since an unprecedented 15-day shutdown of all venues in 2020. It follows the closure of bars, cinemas, and public venues last month.

Furthermore, the city is conducting multiple rounds of mass testing to try and weed out hidden chains of community transmission, with authorities locking down buildings across the city when cases are found in more than one apartment.

Macau reported 89 local infections on Monday, plus two imported cases, bringing the total for the outbreak that started on June 18 to 951. The outbreak comes after months of virus-free life in the gaming hub. It also deals a substantial economic blow to a city that was already grappling with a dearth of tourists and slumping gaming revenue as mainland China’s Covid Zero policies discourage travel to the enclave, with casinos burning through millions of dollars each day they stay open. 

According to estimates by JPMorgan Chase & Co., most casinos have enough liquidity to survive between nine months and two years. Following the lockdown, SJM shares fell more than 2% in Hong Kong on Wednesday. A Bloomberg Intelligence gauge of casino stocks extended losses and is down 17% this year.

Macau remains quarantine-free for travelers from low-risk areas in mainland China, the largest source of its tourism, while a 10-day quarantine is required for those who enter from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Portugal, and some high-risk mainland regions. It is otherwise shut to the rest of the world. 

The neighboring mainland city of Zhuhai tightened its border restrictions for visitors from Macau, requiring seven days of quarantine at designated facilities and another seven days of self-health monitoring. Before the outbreak, arrivals didn’t have to undergo any isolation.  

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