Macau’s glittering casinos are shuttered this week thanks to a Covid outbreak and China’s zero-Covid strategy for fighting the tenacious virus. The order to shut down the city’s 30+ casinos came directly from Macau Chief Executive Ho Ian Seng, who is implementing policies the Chinese government used recently in Shanghai to mitigate the spread of Covid.
According to a recent report in the Guardian UK, about 19,000 Macau residents are currently living under the current quarantine order. Macau, population 649,342, has recorded about 1,500 new Covid cases since mid-June.
Although most countries have moved away from the lockdown model as a means of mitigating Covid, the Chinese government has continued to embrace lockdowns at the first hint of a Covid outbreak. That means that 30 zones of the city are completely locked down, though essential services such as grocery stores and hospitals remain open. An unknown number of travelers, however, are now trapped in the Grand Lisboa hotel and casino.
This latest lockdown is the last thing Macau needed as it struggles to regain its pre-pandemic momentum. 2022’s revenue count was already an astonishing 80 percent lower than it was before Covid.
Terry Ng, an equity research analyst at Daiwa Capital Markets Hong Kong, explained the situation to the BBC saying, “Because mainland Chinese tourists accounted for 71 percent of all tourists and more than 90% of gross gaming revenue, they have to duly follow mainland China’s zero-Covid policy which is highly restrictive.”
Though the initial closure order calls for 30 zones of the city to closed for just one week, it’s a near certainty that the order will be extended, as will the pain experienced by Macau’s now-struggling casino industry.