Government delaying decision on whether to extend 15-day closure of Macau’s casinos
The Macau SAR Government says it is still evaluating whether to re-open the city’s casinos or extend the closure of gaming operations beyond 20 February as it continues to monitor developments in regard to the Coronavirus in Macau and mainland China.
Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng announced last week that all 41 casinos in the SAR, as well as slot halls, VIP Clubs and other gaming businesses, would close for 15 days from midnight on 5 February to stop the spread of the virus.
Since the closure, the number of confirmed infection cases in Macau has held steady at 10, Health Bureau (SS) officials announced on Monday. However, they added that the government will keep evaluating numbers in the coming days as it considers the re-opening of gaming operations come 20 February.
“The end of the epidemic is unpredictable and unknown,” said SS Director Lei Chin Ion at a press conference on Monday. “The situation in Macau is still very tough, we cannot go back to normal life right now even though we have not had any new cases in the last six days.”
Despite the lack of new infections, it is known that at least five Coronavirus patients identified in nearby cities had visited Macau’s casinos and hotels before testing positive.
They include two cases from Hong Kong who visited Oceanus and Galaxy Macau respectively, as well as an Chong Ou Travel Agency shuttle bus driver found to be infected after travelling to Hong Kong.
Two people in Zhuhai and a woman in Taiwan had also visited several Macau hotels and casinos before they showed symptoms.
Meanwhile, the number of tourists entering Macau plummeted to just 3,000 on Sunday, down from around 12,000 on 4 February – the day before the casino closures. By comparison, the SAR welcomed 39.4 million in 2019 at an average of around 108,000 per day.