Macau Orders All Casinos Shut Amid City’s Biggest COVID Surge Yet
Macau, the semi-autonomous Chinese region known as the “Las Vegas of the East,” has ordered all casinos to shut down for a week amid the city’s largest-yet Covid-19 surge—which has seen 1,467 cases out of a population of 680,000.
A former Portuguese colony with a political status similar to that of Hong Kong, Macau is following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy, which is characterized by lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines. In June, U.S. ambassador Nicholas Burns cautioned China that the approach was damaging the global economy.
Given Macau is the world’s largest gambling locale, authorities have been reluctant to close the city’s more than 30 casinos, which account for more than 80% of government revenue. Indeed, this is the first such closure since a 15-day shutdown in February 2020.
The casino closure is part of a much broader lockdown hitting all “non-essential” businesses. Exempted categories of business include utilities, groceries, pharmacies, hotels, restaurants and healthcare. Dine-in service has been banned since a June 23 directive that also closed salons, gyms, bars and entertainment venues.
“The Executive Order instructs all individuals to stay at home, unless their outings are necessary,” said the government in its announcement.
More than 30 zones in the city that have been deemed high risk are now under lockdown, meaning no one is allowed to enter or exit for at least 5 days. While the government said it was not imposing a citywide lockdown, the stringent measures mean Macau is effectively closed.
Though the casino shutdown is slated to last one week—from Monday to Monday—observers see a strong likelihood it could be extended by a few more weeks.
Following China’s lead, the testing regime in Macau is extraordinary. After having already been tested six times since the middle of June, residents will required to submit to four tests this week alone. That’s sure to add to tensions in the city, which has already seen fights breaking out at testing centers and aggravation over 20-hour waits for medical attention.
The record Covid-19 surge, fueled by the rise of the BA.5 subvariant of the Omicron strain, comes despite the fact that more than 90% of the territory’s are fully vaccinated.
Mon, 07/11/2022 – 14:11