A spokesman for Philippine leader President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that some form of anti-Covid-19 lockdown on Metro Manila (pictured) would stay in place beyond a scheduled expiry date this Friday (May 15).
An extensive lockdown for Metro Manila, including its large-scale casino resorts in Entertainment City – and known locally as “enhanced community quarantine” or ECQ – was first announced in mid-March, and subsequently extended in increments.
The Philippine Department of Health said that as of Tuesday, the country had recorded 11,350 cases of Covid-19, with 751 deaths. By May 10 it had conducted on individuals 173,352 tests for infection.
The latest lockdown extension for Metro Manila would cover May 16 to May 31, though it would be on modified terms, said presidential spokesman Harry Roque, as quoted by several media outlets. It will mean the people and businesses of the capital will have spent an aggregate of more than 10 weeks with limits on their movement and daily life.
Earlier on Tuesday the nation’s leader Mr Duterte had flagged that he planned to keep a number of community restrictions in place across the nation, but did not go into details at that time.
Mr Roque later said during a televised briefing that the government would place Metro Manila, Laguna province south of the capital and Cebu City in Visayas under a “modified enhanced community quarantine” from May 16 to May 31.
Under it, factories and public transport would be permitted to restart under limited capacity, the spokesman said at the briefing.
The stay-at-home orders imposed on the central and southern parts of Luzon island, and several provinces in Visayas and in Mindanao would be lifted after May 15, Mr Roque said, as cited by business news outlet Bloomberg.
GGRAsia approached the Entertainment City resorts to try to clarify whether the modified lockdown means the properties – the biggest contributors in aggregate to the Philippine casino market’s gross gaming revenue – could in theory start operating again some time from May 16 onward.
By the time this story went online, we had received a reply from one of the resorts: Okada Manila, promoted by Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp.
It told us: “In support of the Philippine government’s directive to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, all Okada Manila operations have been suspended and will remain so until further notice. Our reopening will depend on the directive of the Philippine government on what businesses are allowed to resume after ECQ is lifted.”
In early May the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) said it was allowing “partial resumption” of operations at online gambling providers known as Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).
It said the move was under “stringent conditions” and aimed to help the national government “raise necessary funds” to combat the novel coronavirus.
Pagcor’s boss Andrea Domingo had been cited earlier as saying suspension of POGO operations had deprived the regulatory agency of as much as PHP600 million (about US$12 million) in monthly revenue.
In a March 30 press release, Pagcor said it was losing up to PHP6 billion per month due to all forms of gaming business having been suspended due to the enhanced community quarantine imposed by the country’s government.
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