fter the confirmation of a COVID-19 Delta variant family cluster involving four patients, Macau has entered a state of “immediate pandemic prevention” as the government states that the area is now facing “a risk of COVID-19 transmission and pandemic outbreak in the local community”.
In the interest of preventing that scenario, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng announced Wednesday that all entertainment businesses will be closed from midnight August 5. However, the over three dozen casinos in Macau will remain open.
Ho provided the update on the latest restrictions impacting Macau at a press conference held on Wednesday, and stated that there are no immediate plans to close the city’s casinos, while other indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theaters, indoor amusement parks, billiard and bowling rooms, karaoke bars, discos and massage parlors, among others, will be closed for 14 days.
The Chief Executive explained that both gaming workers and gamblers are required to wear facemasks indoors, which is not the case in other entertainment venues, hence the permission to stay active.
“Last time we closed casinos for days because the infections had activities in casinos. This time, the infections have not, but if we find any cases in a casino, we will close that casino immediately”, Ho said, in reference to measures taken in February 2020, when casinos were closed for 15 days.
He also denied having a “double standard” in the decision to keep casinos open amid restrictions imposed on other entertainment facilities.
“It is unlikely we could monitor everyone in karaoke bars or saunas and massage parlours to ensure they wear masks all the time, so we decided to close this kind of entertainment venue”, he explained. “But the situations in casinos are different. We do not want to shut down all business activities once an outbreak occurs.”
Casinos are Macau’s main breadwinner, as they generate about half of the local GDP and over three quarters of the government’s receipts. Macau’s gaming operators have recorded GGR of $7.18 billion for the first seven months of 2021 combined, up 63.9% over the same period last year.
Macau’s new preventive measures came into force after a family of four tested positive for the Delta variant after a trip to Zhuhai, becoming the first infections in Macau for almost a year and a half.
Ho clarified that he intends to reopen all activity in a fortnight, as close contacts of the infected family have tested negative.
Anyone who wishes to leave Macau via Zhuhai must now present a negative nucleic acid test result for nucleic acidCOVID-19 within the last 12 hours before departing. A heal code system will be used to allow entry into all public places with a green code needed to get into casinos and hotels.
In addition to all this, the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre has said everyone living in Macau will have to have a nucleic acid COVID test within the next three days. Sands Macao, Grand Lisboa, MGM Macau, Wynn Macau, StarWorld, The Venetian Macao, Wynn Palace, MGM Cotai, Studio City and Broadway will all house testing facilities.