Health authorities in Macau are still evaluating the impact on public health of a 15-day closure order to the city’s casino industry. Asked about the matter during a Monday government briefing, representatives from the Macau Health Bureau were non-committal on whether the measure – part of the city’s efforts to prevent the spread of a novel coronavirus infection – could be extended.
“Regarding the suspension period, it lasts until February 19,” said Health Bureau director Lei Chin Ion. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” he added, when asked by reporters if the casino closure order could be extended beyond that period.
Another representative from the Health Bureau attending Monday’s briefing said that a potential extension of the measure would depend on developments over the next nine days – both in Macau and in mainland China – regarding the newly-identified coronavirus outbreak.
From February 5, Macau closed all its casinos – and its other major centres of entertainment – for at least 15 days in an effort to prevent the virus spreading locally. There were a total of 10 confirmed cases within Macau as of Monday, with one patient – a tourist from Wuhan, in Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak – having recovered and gone home after treatment in a Macau hospital. No new cases have been reported in Macau since February 4.
The mainland authorities have stopped – until further notice – issuing fresh permits for Chinese independent travellers to visit Macau under the country’s Individual Visit Scheme. Tour groups from the mainland to Macau are also suspended. The authorities have said the measures are part of the efforts to cut travel across China and so reduce the risk of further spread of the coronavirus.
During Monday’s government briefing, it was confirmed that Altira Macau – run by Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd – had become the seventh hotel located in a complex with casino, to temporarily suspended operations, according to the Macao Government Tourism Office.
A notice in the property’s website stated that “Altira Macau will temporarily close from February 10 until further notice in order to curb the spread of the new strain of coronavirus”.
Hotels at casino resorts were not covered by the government’s 15-day casino closure order. However, the city’s hotels are facing a steep fall in guests as visitor arrivals to Macau have declined sharply due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and measures implemented to prevent the spread of the outbreak.
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”Diversifying the market [in Macau], both in terms of the geographic origin of visitors and their motivations to visit, is not a process that happens overnight”
Chief executive of casino operator Wynn Macau Ltd