Effective Tuesday midnight, all 41 casinos in Macau are to be shut down for the next 15 days. According to confirmed reports, the directive was given by Chief Executive Ho lat Seng on Tuesday, adding that there is a possibility the shutdown could be extended if the current situation does not improve.
Towards the end of last year, a coronavirus outbreak was reported in China’s mainland province of Hubei. Since then, the virus has been spreading rapidly, causing fear on the Island as well as to neighboring countries. As of Tuesday, China had reported 20,438 cases of the deadly virus, with 425 of the cases resulting in death.
For some time now and according to a publication by a news writer at the CalvinAyre.com Macau officials have been considering shutting down the gaming venues in an effort to keep the island safe.
They also planned to provide accommodation to mainland residents who cannot return home for fear of the virus. In a press conference on February 4, Seng said that that afternoon he was meeting with officials from the gaming industry as well as legal advisors to discuss the way forward.
He added saying that closing down the casinos is a tough move that will have a great impact on the economy. However, for the safety of the residents of Macau, they will have to accept the situation and make the most appropriate decision. Casinos are encouraged to continue paying their employees during the shutdown.
So far 10 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Macau. Just a few days ago, a group representing Macau casino workers, wrote to the government requesting that casinos be closed down. In the letter, they expressed concern for their health as they had observed unsanitary behaviors by some of the gamblers. They were concerned this would lead to further spread of the virus.
On February 2, DICJ issued a directive requiring all gaming operators to provide accommodation to employees who live in the Chinese interior. By having accommodation in the city, the workers will have no need of going back to their homes, reducing the risk of contracting the virus.
Lei Wai Nong, Secretary of Economy and Finance, further stressed on the importance of casinos providing accommodation to their employees and this should mostly target the workers who spend most of their time within the premises of the business.
He insisted that this is not just a directive to the entertainment industry, other service providers as well, including construction, cleaning and catering will have to do the same. By minimizing contact with those in the interior parts of the island, the risk of contracting the virus is significantly reduced.
Before closure, Macau casinos were performing dismally with the reduced flow of gamblers. To further protect the Island, Macau is considering shutting down its borders entirely to the entry of Chinese residents. Foreigners from China’s mainland form the largest portion of gamblers visiting Macau casinos.