Macau closes most businesses due to rising Covid cases, but casinos remain open

But while most businesses have closed, casinos remain open.

Testing of approximately 600,000 Macau residents is expected to be completed on Tuesday. The Chinese-ruled former Portuguese colony has adhered to China’s strict coronavirus policy, which aims to eradicate all outbreaks at almost any cost.

The casino center reported 31 cases on Sunday, ending an eight-month streak of no infections, the Macau government said in a Facebook post.

City officials have begun closing schools, tourist attractions, cultural centers and all non-essential businesses. Restaurants have been ordered to suspend customer service.

Casinos have been allowed to remain open, but analysts say their profits will still be cut as the government has urged residents not to visit the entertainment venues.

Macau is completely closed to all visitors, except for residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. Most of them must be quarantined for 10 days upon arrival, although some of the low-risk areas in mainland China have been released.

The restrictions have jeopardized the business model at the heart of Macau’s economy, which has traditionally depended on millions of visitors from mainland China.

Macau casino shares fell on Monday morning. Sands China led the decline, dropping more than 8%, its biggest drop since March 15. MGM China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, Melco and SJM Holdings lost 4% to 7%.

The Macau government derives more than 80% of its income from casinos, with the majority of the population directly or indirectly employed in the casino industry.

The rise in infections occurred suddenly, cases spread rapidly, and the source is still unknown, Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said in a statement on the government website.

In response to the outbreak in Macau, the neighboring city of Zhuhai in the southern province of Guangdong, where many Macau residents live and work, has introduced a mandatory seven-day quarantine for anyone arriving from the gambling center.

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