Macau closes businesses and restaurants due to Covid, but casinos remain open

Macau’s government relies on casinos for more than 80% of its income, and most residents work directly or indirectly in the casino industry.

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Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, began its second day of mass testing for Covid-19 on Monday, with banks, schools, government services and other businesses closed, but casinos remaining open.

Tests for Macau, with a population of 600,000, are expected to end on Tuesday and come after dozens of locally transmitted cases were discovered over the weekend.

The former Portuguese colony ruled by China is adhering to China’s “zero COVID” policy aimed at eliminating all outbreaks, at virtually any cost, contrary to the global trend of trying to coexist with the virus.

Analysts said most residents are being asked to stay at home, restaurants will be closed for dining and border restrictions have been tightened, meaning casino revenue is likely to be near zero for at least a week and possibly in the coming weeks.

Macau’s government relies on casinos for more than 80% of its income, and most residents work directly or indirectly in the casino industry.

The latest outbreak came suddenly and spread quickly and the source is still unknown, Macao Chief Executive Officer Ho Ayat Singh said in a statement on the government’s website.

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The previous coronavirus outbreak was in Macau in October last year. An outbreak in neighboring China’s Hong Kong this year has seen more than 1 million confirmed infections, more than 9,000 deaths, and overwhelmed hospitals and public services.

Macau has only one general hospital, which actually extends its services on a daily basis.

Macau’s legislature is set to approve a revised gaming law this week that will lay the groundwork for what is required of multi-billion dollar casino operators to keep operating.

“Depending on how quickly Macau controls the latest outbreak of the virus, there is a risk of delaying the completion of the gambling law amendments and subsequent franchise.

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