Macau is closing most businesses as Covid’s cases grow, but casinos remain open

But while most businesses are closed, casinos remain open.

Testing of about 600,000 Macau residents is expected to end on Tuesday. The former Portuguese colony, run by China, adheres to China’s strict policy of zero Covid, which aims to eradicate all outbreaks at almost any cost.

The casino center registered 31 cases on Sunday, ending an eight-month series of zero infections, the Macau government said in a Facebook post.

City officials have begun closing schools, tourist attractions, cultural sites and all non-essential businesses. Restaurants have been ordered to suspend catering services.

Casinos have been allowed to remain open, but analysts say their end line will still be affected as the government urges residents not to visit entertainment venues.

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

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

Shares of casinos in Macau fell on Monday morning. Sands China is leading, falling more than 8% in the biggest drop since March 15. MGM China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, Melco and SJM Holdings fell between 4% and 7%.

The Macao government relies on casinos for more than 80% of its revenue, with the majority of the population employed directly or indirectly in the casino industry.

The rise in infections came suddenly, with cases spreading rapidly and the source still unknown, Macau CEO Ho Yat Seng said in a statement on the market’s 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 imposed a mandatory seven-day quarantine for anyone arriving from the gambling center.

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