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After a coronavirus epidemic in the largest gaming hotspot in the world on Monday, Macau closed all of its casinos for the first time in more than two years.
Over 30 casinos are among the non-essential enterprises that have been told to close for a week by the authorities.
Official statistics show that since the middle of June, the city has had 1,526 cases of COVID.
On Monday, gaming stock prices fell due to worries about stricter regulations in the Chinese special administrative zone.
As the city battles the worst COVID-19 epidemic since early 2020, some 19,000 people have been placed under mandatory quarantine.
Under earlier regulations, schools and leisure venues like clubs and theaters had already been closed.
The Government Information Bureau of Macau said over the weekend that all enterprises would have to shut down unless they were “deemed necessary to the community and to the day-to-day lives of the members of the public.”
The two doses of the COVID vaccination have been administered to more than 90% of Macau citizens. For the first time, the city is dealing with the fast-spreading Omicron type. It’s not clear how many people have also gotten their booster doses.
The former Portuguese colony only has one public hospital serving more than 600,000 citizens, so officials recently put up a temporary hospital and converted many casino resorts into medical facilities. Infected hotels and apartments have been sealed off, and many of the people who live there have been tested.
Macau adheres to China’s rigid “zero COVID” policy, where even a small number of cases has prompted widespread testing, compelled quarantines, and lockdowns of entire neighborhoods and cities.
Even though Macau hasn’t locked down the whole city like mainland China has, most services have been stopped and the city is pretty much shut down.
According to Terry Ng of Daiwa Capital Markets Hong Kong, who specializes in equity analysis, Macau authorities are “caught between a rock and a hard place.”
While gambling is prohibited on the Chinese mainland, it is permitted in Macau, another special administrative province of China like Hong Kong.
Shares of Macau casinos went down on Monday after the new rules went into effect.
By midday in Hong Kong, shares of Las Vegas Sands’ subsidiary Sands China were trading 7 percent lower. SJM Holdings, founded by late Hong Kong business magnate Stanley Ho, saw its share price fall by 6.1 percent.