A worrying time in Macau
The authorities in Macau have ordered the temporary closure of casinos until the spread of the coronavirus has been contained.
after the period elapses, the time could be extended
Wearing a face mask, Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng gave the order for an initial two-week closure at a news conference on Tuesday. If there are continuing issues with the virus spread on the island after the period elapses, the time could be extended.
Ho Iat Seng said, “This is a difficult decision but we have to do it, for the health of our Macau residents.”
Reopening plans to be discussed
The exact timings for the reopening of casinos have not been announced. However, the Chief Executive will be meeting with representatives of the gaming industry on Tuesday to discuss plans.
The closure order marks the second time in history that the Macau authorities have been forced to shut casinos. The first occurrence was in 2018 after the island was hit by a typhoon.
The economy will be hit hard
Macau is the only part of the Chinese territory that allows gambling. The island’s annual income is fueled by gambling sources, which account for approximately 80% of all revenue.
Chinese New Year celebrations, which normally spell a busy time for Macau, were canceled last week by Chief Executive Ho amid coronavirus concerns. The level of visitors to the island dropped by 80% over the past week.
visitors to the island dropped by 80% over the past week
Ho is well aware of the economic impact the casino closures will have, but the priority is not to curtail the spreading of the deadly virus. He added that, while there will be a fiscal deficit and a loss of gaming revenue for the fiscal year, there are enough tax reserves to help support the island’s economy.
Ho issues further warnings
Ho had previously hinted that temporary closures of casinos could be in the cards. The gambling facilities have been monitoring their patrons’ temperatures over the past few days to try and identify potential dangers.
The Chief Executive confirmed there are no plans to close the passage of people to and from mainland China. However, he did say that some of the checkpoints might be closed. This measure has already been enacted in Hong Kong.
He advised Macau residents to avoid going outdoors as much as possible, warning, “Don’t go on the streets if not necessary. I hope everyone will wear a mask no matter where you go, supermarkets or wet markets. Don’t be careless. Don’t take it lightly.”