Macau Shuts Down All Its Casinos To Curb COVID, Gaming Stocks Plunge

Residents wearing face masks queue to get tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Macau, China, July 4, 2022. REUTERS/John Mak

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  • More than 30 zones locked down across the city
  • Four rounds of mass COVID testing are planned this week
  • Casinos in Macau have been virtually closed for several weeks

HONG KONG, July 11 (Reuters) – Macau on Monday closed all its casinos for the first time in more than two years, sending gaming company shares tumbling as authorities struggled to contain the worst coronavirus outbreak yet in the world’s biggest gaming hub .

The city’s 30-plus casinos and other businesses will be closed for a week and people have been told to stay home, although short trips for essential services have been allowed.

Police will monitor the flow of people outside and impose severe penalties on those who disobey, the government said.

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Although many casinos have effectively shut down with only minimal staffing allowed over the past three weeks, the more drastic measures have hit investor confidence hard. Some analysts predicted that a recovery in gaming revenue might not materialize until the end of Q3 or Q4.

“We would probably have to write July off the models and probably August as well,” said DS Kim, an analyst at JP Morgan.

Sands China (1928.HK) shares plunged 9%, while shares in Melco International (0200.HK), Wynn Macau (1128.HK), SJM (0880.HK), Galaxy (0027.HK), MGM China (2282.HK). .HK) fell between 6% and 7%.

Macau has recorded around 1,500 COVID-19 infections since mid-June. Around 19,000 people are in mandatory quarantine as the government adheres to China’s “zero-COVID” policy aimed at stamping out all outbreaks, bucking a global trend to co-exist with the virus.

More than 30 zones in the city deemed high-risk are now locked down, meaning no one will be allowed in or out for at least 5 days. While the government has said it will not impose a citywide lockdown, the strict measures mean Macau is effectively shut down.

Casinos were last closed for 15 days in Macau in February 2020. The government was previously reluctant to close casinos under its job protection mandate. Industry directly and indirectly employs most of the population and accounts for more than 80% of government revenue.

Frustration with the government’s handling of the outbreak is growing. Fighting has broken out at testing centers, while some residents have had to queue for more than 20 hours to access health facilities.

Residents must attend mass COVID-19 testing four times this week. They have already been tested six times since mid-June and are supposed to carry out rapid antigen tests every day.

More than 90% of Macau’s 600,000 residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but this is the first time the city has had to deal with the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

Authorities have added two hotels in popular casino resorts to be used as COVID medical facilities to increase capacity to deal with the wave of infections. Continue reading

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Reporting by Farah Master; Adaptation by Stephen Coates and Edwina Gibbs

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