As per a recent announcement issued by the government, Macau is set to reopen casinos on Saturday, July 23. In an attempt to stop a spike in the number of new Covid-19 cases, Macau officials had ordered the shutdown of all casinos last week, on July 11. Now, if virus conditions allow it, activities will resume as the gaming hub’s worst-ever outbreak eases.
Ao Ieong U, secretary for social affairs and culture, said at a briefing on Wednesday that the city will allow gaming venues to resume operations as long as they meet the required conditions in regards to ventilation and disinfection. The facilities are also required to have 50% of normal staffing levels at work, and activities that require the removal of masks for extended periods of time are forbidden.
"There’s been extended assessment from health and other regulatory agencies, and we found casinos’ ventilation and cleaning to be compliant," Ao said as reported by Bloomberg.
Although casinos will be allowed to reopen on Saturday, bars, cinemas and nightclubs will remain shut and dining-in services at restaurants suspended. The partial reopening will take place over two weeks, with businesses such as beauty parlors and health clubs continuing to be shut. Residents are still required to stay home apart from those who need to go out for "work, shopping or other urgent reasons," a statement said.
The reopening announcement comes as infections have decreased over the past week with only 10 cases reported on Tuesday. Since mid-June, Macau has reported around 1,800 cases. More than 90% of Macau's residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, authorities said they will continue to carry out city-wide mass testing on its more than 600,000 residents. The city adheres to China's "zero-COVID" policy that aims to curb all outbreaks.
The reopening of the casinos is a government attempt to protect jobs, as the gaming industry accounts for more than 80% of government revenue with most people employed directly or indirectly by the city's resorts. The last time casinos in Macau were ordered to shut down was in 2020 for 15 days.
Still, casinos face headwinds given the lack of quarantine-free travel, which means there’ll be few customers, and gaming venues are likely to continue to burn through millions of dollars of cash each day. Earlier this month, analysts predict that any recovery in gaming revenue would most likely not happen until the end of the third quarter or during the fourth quarter.
Even after the border fully reopens, it will still take time for Macau to rebuild confidence for tourists to come back in large numbers, Credit Suisse analysts including Kenneth Fong said in a note, according to Bloomberg.
Earlier this week, the gaming hub reported a 52% quarter-to-quarter drop in Q2 to MOP 8.4 billion ($1.03 billion). The majority was represented by mass baccarat, about MOP 5 billion ($618,6 million), almost half of the previous quarter. Aditionally, according to data published by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), five casinos closed in Q2, bringing the total of casinos operating in the city to 37.