Authorities hint casino closure possible upon hypothetical confirmation of Covid-19 case

Casinos may close once a Covid-19 case is detected in a particular gaming property, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) and Judiciary Police (PJ) announced during a joint meeting with the city’s six gaming concessionaires.
Given the gradual reopening of the city’s borders, authorities warned that they are imposing stricter measures to deter the spread of Covid-19 – including potential casino closures.
“The confirmation of any Covid-19 cases in casinos may imply the closure of the [casino], which will have a significant impact on the economy,” said Luís Leong, head of the Judiciary Police’s gaming-related and economic crimes investigation unit.
Since Wednesday, Guangdong residents can again apply for permits under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) – a move that the Macau SAR has long been awaiting, while IVS permits for residents from the whole of mainland China will resume on September 23.
Therefore, DICJ has urged the city’s gaming operators to step up and continuously enforce epidemic prevention efforts.
The government has also adopted several restrictive measures.
Gaming concessionaires must immediately notify the PJ when a client provides false information, or falsified health codes or nucleic acid test certificates.
These clients will be criminally liable for breach of the provisions of the Prevention, Control and Treatment of Infectious Diseases Law.
The guideline was issued on July 15 whereby all casino entrants are required to submit a certificate showing a negative result from a valid nucleic acid test, aside from the health declaration and body temperature check.
Casinos in Macau underwent a two-week closure from February 5 to help contain the coronavirus. The move to suspend casino operations was a blow to the gambling mecca, which has been struggling to recover from the worst annual revenue decline since 2015. The 15-day closure was the longest-ever halt and only the second such instance, after a typhoon in 2018 forced a 33-hour shutdown.
Since then, even after the reopening of the casinos, the city’s gross gaming revenue has plunged.
Gross gaming revenue dropped 77.4% year-on-year in the first half of 2020, official data shows. Most of the revenue was earned in January, before the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were felt in Macau. The city has entertained near-zero levels of tourism since February.
Meanwhile, prior to Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng’s visit to Beijing, the SAR’s top official said that Macau must work hard to convince its main visitor source market that it is a safe city to travel to, warning that the SAR may not welcome as many tourists as it did before the pandemic.
Preliminary data from last week showed Macau did not see an immediate rise in visitor arrivals from Zhuhai once the restrictions were eased.
The DICJ pledged that it would continue to oversee the operation of casinos and hold regular meetings with the PJ and the six gaming operators in order to review and improve collaboration mechanisms, maintain order and public safety in the casinos, and assess the implementation of various epidemic prevention measures.

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