Macau Casinos Get Permission To Reopen From Feb. 20
Casino operators in Macau will be relieved to know that the government of Macau will not be extending the 15-day suspension of all casino operations.
This was confirmed based on a statement by the city’s Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong. The last day of the forced shutdown is on Feb. 19 which means that all Macau casinos will be able to open from early Feb. 20.
According to Lei, no compulsion exists for Macau’s 39 licensees to open on Feb. 20; the only requirement of the city is that they resume operations within 30 days. All inhabitants of the casinos will have to use face masks, a rule enacted before the shutdown.
Lei also indicated that additional safety regulations will be present in the casinos upon reopening. The distance between gambling tables may be increased, as well as a decrease in the number of operational tables, though no guidelines have been publicised so far—specific rules have yet to be disclosed.
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Macau’s 15-day casino shutdown began on Feb. 5—along with many of the city’s entertainment venues to quell the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Macau has confirmed 10 cases as of this week, five of whom have already recovered and returned home to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the epidemic after receiving healthcare in Macau. The last reported case of the virus in Macau was on Feb. 4.
Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. noted that the limited information regarding Macau safety measures may be trivial, as the expected customer turnout would likely be low in the near term. Industry analysts stated that there is no consensus among Macau casinos whether it would be in their interest to reopen so soon after the coronavirus outbreak; while some casinos seem ready to open, some are shying away from operating in what is likely a very constrained market.
Lei acknowledged this concern, stating that the 30-day period offered by Macau to its licensees could serve as a buffer; Lei stated that licensees who choose to extend their shutdown beyond Feb. 19 will have to apply with the government.
Macau Takes Precautions
Currently, authorities in mainland China have stopped issuing new permits to travel to Macau; they have also been quiet on when they might resume.
One key factor named by Lei for the reopening of Macau’s casinos is the 84,000-strong industry workforce, costing licensees millions of dollars a day. Macau has instituted a 14-day quarantine period and a medical declaration requirement for Zhuhai residents seeking to enter Macau, to prevent further coronavirus outbreaks.