Macau orders closure of entertainment venues but casinos remain open amid COVID testing blitz

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Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has stated there are no immediate plans to close the citys casinos in the wake of new COVID-19 cases that have led to a mass testing blitz.

Ho provided an update on latest restrictions impacting Macau at a press conference on Wednesday, which will see a range of public entertainment venues forced to suspend operations. They include cinemas, theaters, indoor amusement parks, video game arcades, internet cafes, billiard and bowling rooms, sauna and massage establishments, beauty salons, gyms, health clubs, karaoke establishments, bars, nightclubs, discos, dance halls and cabarets.

However, asked if Macau was in for a repeat of February 2020, when he ordered the closure of all casinos citywide for 15 days, Ho replied, Last time we closed casinos for [15] 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.

As previously reported by IAG, all Macau residents are required to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours from 9am Wednesday after a family of four who had recently returned from Zhuhai were confirmed positive earlier in the week. All four have been classified as community infections Macaus first since February 2020.

Long queues formed at the 41 testing sites set up across Macau on Wednesday.

Ho, who expressed hope that entertainment venues can reopen within 14 days, said Wednesday that all close contacts of the family have returned negative virus tests at this stage a positive sign that the virus may not have spread widely through the community.

He also denied there was a double standard in deciding to close entertainment venues while keeping casinos open.

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 said.

But the situations in casinos is different. We do not want to shut down all business activities once an outbreak occurs.

The tighter restrictions will undoubtedly impact visitation to Macau casinos, however, with Ho admitting the governments 2021 GGR target of MOP$130 billion may need to be adjusted.

Macaus gaming operators have recorded GGR of MOP$57.47 billion (US$7.18 billion) for the first seven months of 2021 combined, up 63.9% over the same period last year.