Macau to close casinos, bars and cinemas for two weeks over virus

Andrew Cummings
February 4, 2020

The number of deaths from coronavirus in China is now over 420, with more than 20,000 reported cases of people with the condition. In case the issue of the outbreak is still a problem by that time, the region's casinos will remain closed until further notice.

At a meeting between the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) and representatives of casino industry on Sunday, the six operators agreed to provide adequate accommodation for non-resident workers required to work in Macau, while those not needed on the ground will be granted permission to stay in Zhuhai and return to Macau once the virus epidemic is under control.

Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong said in a statement that by midnight Tuesday, all 41 casinos and other premises, including movie theatres, pubs and nightclubs, will suspend operation for 15 days.

Gambling has been permitted in Macau since the 1850s when it was legalised by the Portugese government.

Gaming stocks plunged after the announcement, with Sands China down 2.0 percent, Galaxy Entertainment down 2.3 percent and Wynn Macau down 1.7 percent at close of play Tuesday.

On Tuesday, health authorities announced two fresh infections - one a woman who worked in the gaming industry.

The two-week shutdown of the gambling hub's casinos is definitely going to have a huge impact on the revenue projections for the first quarter of the year. According to reports, the city was visited by approximately 35 million people in 2019, with the majority of these visitors being there because of the casino industry that weekly generates what Las Vegas generates in a month.

The city featured in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, with glamorous scenes set in the fictitious "Golden Dragon Casino" in Macau.

Although most casinos in Macau are still open, visitor numbers have plummeted, with staff wearing masks and following strict cleaning and hygiene policies.

The virus has hammered the industry over what would usually be one of its busiest periods - the Lunar New Year holidays.

'Don't go on the streets if not necessary.

Macau has told citizens not to go outside on any occasions except for food and to always wear protective masks.

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