Macau’s casinos can reopen from the start of Saturday (July 23) until July 29, but only at 50 percent of normal staffing, confirmed the head of the city’s Health Bureau, Alvis Lo Iek Long, at a Wednesday briefing, citing the city’s gaming regulator. Mr Lo said casinos would also need to do “thorough” disinfection ahead of reopening.
But in terms of tourist customers for reopened facilities, for now, there will be no easing of current travel rules between neighbouring mainland China city Zhuhai and Macau, said Macau’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Elsie Ao Ieong U, during the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre daily press conference.
The period July 23 to July 29 is part of what the Macau government calls a “consolidation” phase in terms of the current outbreak of Covid-19, during which most businesses deemed non-essential are being allowed to reopen. Ms Ao Ieong said such a phase might extend to another week after that.
By Friday, the city will have had a nearly two-week shutdown of non-essential businesses, including casinos.
Macau had a total of 1,795 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of midnight on Wednesday, in the current local outbreak since June 18. A total of 12 new infections was detected on Wednesday.
Since June 19, people journeying inbound to Macau from Zhuhai have needed to present a certificate issued within 48 hours of departure, showing a ‘negative’ result for Covid-19 infection. From that same date, anyone wishing to leave Macau to travel into Zhuhai is required not only to show a ‘negative’ test certificate issued within 24 hours of intended departure, but also has to undergo on arrival, a seven-day quarantine in a Zhuhai government-designated facility.
More than 20 provinces in mainland China – including Macau’s neighbour Guangdong province, where Zhuhai is located – are currently reporting clusters of Covid-19 infection, according to mainland media.
Secretary Ao Ieong said at Wednesday’s media briefing that one rationale for Macau’s casinos being able to reopen was that their respective ventilation systems were “up to standard”.
“For the casinos, before shutdown, the health bureau and other relevant authorities have checked on them for a long period of time, and they had found that the ventilation system and the cleaning practice inside casinos are up to standard. So they are okay,” stated Ms Ao Ieong.
The Health Bureau’s Mr Lo said at the briefing, that as a general rule for non-essential businesses allowed to reopen, there should be no more than one person occupying 2 square metres (21.5 sq feet) of space. This applied to customers or users of a premises, and excluded staff that might be present.
GGRAsia has approached respectively the city’s six gaming operators, and the local regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, seeking clarification on whether such rules would apply to density of gaming tables in operation after casinos reopen during the consolidation phase.
The gaming bureau confined its reply to saying it would “reinforce” its patrols on casino floors, in terms of “prevention” regarding Covid-19.
(Updated 12.25pm, July 21)
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