Macau COVID Outbreak Prompts First Casino Closure Since Pandemic Began

  • Officials have designated both SJM’s Lisboa and Fortuna as red lockdown areas due to cases
  • Macau’s COVID-19 authority listed 89 new cases of the virus in the gambling hub on Monday
  • Sands’ Plaza Macao remains open despite cases traced to a now-shuttered shopping center floor
  • Upon the Lisboa’s shuttering, shares in SJM fell 0.6% at HK$3.40 (US$0.43) on Wednesday
Macau's Grand Lisboa casino
Shares in Macau’s SJM Holdings have taken a knock because its flagship Grand Lisboa casino resort had to shutter after 13 COVID-19 cases were traced to it. [Image:]

First shuttered since 2020

For the first time since 2020, the Hong Kong government has shut down a casino in response to a COVID-19 outbreak.

officials discovered 13 COVID-19 cases

According to a Reuters report, Macau has locked down its landmark Grand Lisboa after officials discovered 13 COVID-19 cases there Tuesday. Macau-based gaming lawyer Carlos Lobo shared news of the lockdown via Twitter:

Multiple buildings in the gambling mecca have also gone into lockdown. SJM Holdings owns The Grand Lisboa and another gambling venue that has also closed, the casino hotel Fortuna. The Macau News Agency said the Fortuna is now a red lockdown area, meaning authorities have sealed guests and workers inside.

Macau’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center listed 89 new cases of the virus on Monday. The outbreak erupted on June 18, with authorities placing over 13,000 people under quarantine orders as the city tries to deal with its biggest outbreak since the pandemic began.

Ghosts of COVID past

The Lisboa’s shuttering marks a return to February 2020, when all gambling venues in Macau closed for an unprecedented 15 days. Casinos bring in substantial revenue to the special administrative region, so Macau has allowed them to continue operating despite bars, restaurants, cinemas, and other public venues closing in late June.

Plaza Macao has managed to escape a total shutdown

According to Bloomberg, Sands China’s Plaza Macao has managed to escape a total shutdown. Officials traced a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the resort’s shopping center to one floor, which they have since sealed off. The rest of the Sands’ owned resort, including the 127,000 square-foot Plaza Casino, remains open for business.

The Lisboa, meanwhile, is well and truly shut, with photos emerging in the local media of the hotel encircled by tape and cordoned by various people in protection gear and hazmat suits.

A decline in stocks

SJM, started by former Macau kingpin Stanley Ho, seems totally down on its luck. As news emerged that the Lisboa will close until July 11, shares in SJM fell 0.6% at HK$3.40 ($0.43) on Wednesday in Hong Kong.

In March, SJM, which is one of Macau’s six casino giants, experienced its heaviest one-day percentage fall in shares in over six months, tanking 10% at HK$3.28 (US$0.42).

According to Reuters on Tuesday, SJM’s Grand Lisboa was not immediately available for comment.

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