Macau casinos set to reopen after latest COVID shutdown
Casinos in Macau will be opening tentatively after a shutdown of operations due to a fresh wave of the COVID-19 Omicron variant earlier this month. However, the reopening is not without stringent conditions.
The region’s world-renowned gambling venues contribute up to 80% of its revenue directly and indirectly while employing 90% of its population. However, with the pandemic, most Macau casinos have been forced to close down due too little to no clientele, with some going as far as to urge their workers to go on unpaid leave as they struggle to stay afloat.
Other non-essential businesses have also had to shut down due to the pandemic. This is the second time in two years that business operations have come to a halt in the region.
But with reported low cases of the virus due to adherence to a “zero COVID” policy, casinos will be reopening with strict safety measures to be followed. One of such is that 50% of the workforce will be resuming and will all be subject to meticulous disinfectant guidelines. Social-distancing rules apply to both staff and patrons, as only one person per two square meters is allowed. Activities requiring the removal of masks, such as eating, cannot be done indoors, and so restaurants remain closed.
Apart from the guidelines imposed by the authorities, popular venues like Wynn Macau, Grand Lisboa, The Venetian, and MGM Macau have already imposed their own conditions. Some of them will be operating with less than 20% of their gaming tables, while most of their slot machines will remain operational.
Despite the reopening, business is not expected to pick up pace due to the impact of travel restrictions. Citizens travelling to Macau from Zhuhai in mainland China must present a negative COVID certificate no older than 48 hours before entering the region.
To return to Zhuhai, not only is another test certificate taken 24 hours before departure needed, but seven days of quarantine are required in a designated government facility.
“We won’t be seeing any tourists,” said Stephen Lau, president of the Power of the Macau Gaming Association.
“At the rate things are going, tourists may not come back until mid- or late-August.”
Per government requirements, active casinos must continue to work at 50% till its “consolidation” phase is over by July 29. Whether the end of the phase will mark a return to pre-pandemic levels of operation remains to be seen.